In the News
MO: So we can all breath easier again? - Critical research findings (by the Met Office Hadley Centre, the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology) that will help plan future flood risk in the Thames Estuary have been revealed as part of the Environment Agency's Thames Estuary 2100 Project - a project that considers an adaptive approach for planning for future flood risk in the Estuary.
The results, released at the international conference Climate change impacts and adaptation: Dangerous rates of change at Exeter University, confirm that current Government predictions & previous flood scenarios are realistic and have gone a long way to reducing the uncertainty around maximum water levels.
The research means that previous worst-case scenario of increases in maximum water levels can be revised down from 4.2m to 2.7m (including surge). Such a reduction in worst case scenario for this century means that a tide-excluding estuary barrage is unlikely to be necessary to manage flood risk this century.
Another key finding from this new research is that future peak freshwater flows for the Thames, at Kingston for instance, could increase by around 40% by 2080.
DFID: Putting UK poverty into perspective - Over a million of the poorest people in Bangladesh will benefit from a £70m UK-funded programme - the Chars Livelihoods Programme (CLP) - which protects the livelihoods of thousands of families living on the remote & isolated Jamuna river (char) islands in North-West Bangladesh.
The scheme will provide islanders, many of whom live on less than 35 cents a day, with the chance to help themselves by investing in cattle, goats & seeds that will deliver long-term dependable sources of food.
The announcement builds on the programme's first phase, which saw a doubling of income for 500,000 island dwellers and help for even more to grow & buy food, particularly during the ‘monga’ or hunger season.
FSA: Weaning off the Bank of Mum & Dad - As the new university term begins, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has set its sights on introducing its Money Doctors financial education programme to 50 more universities this year, as research shows that young people are least able to manage their finances among UK adults.
The project helps students in higher education become financially competent by encouraging them to confront debt and to take control of their own finances before they get into difficulties. The FSA has helped train 100 student money advisers at 50 universities across the UK and hopes to double that number in 2008/09.
FSA research shows:
* One-in-three students are constantly overdrawn
* Two-in-five students admit to being completely disorganised about their money
* One-in-three never check their bank statements or, if they do, they only check the final balance
DFID: A health target worth striving for! - World leaders gathered last week at the 2008 Millennium Development Goals Malaria Summit to endorse an ambitious new Global Malaria Action Plan and commit nearly $3bn toward reducing the number of malaria deaths to near zero by 2015.
The funding commitments will support rapid implementation of the Global Malaria Action Plan, which was launched by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, with the broad support of a united malaria community.
Developed with input from more than 250 malaria experts, the plan is the first-ever comprehensive blueprint for global malaria control. It demonstrates that, by achieving the Secretary-General's call for full coverage of malaria interventions by 2010, it is possible to save more than 4.2m lives by 2015 and lay the foundation for a longer term effort to eradicate the disease.
Press release ~ Malaria no more ~ 2008 Millennium Development Goals Malaria Summit ~ Global Malaria Action Plan ~ Roll Back Malaria Partnership
STFC: An indication of India’s resurgence in Science - A sophisticated X-ray camera made by scientists & engineers from the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is set to launch into space on 22 October 2008 aboard the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft.
This is the first time the UK and India have collaborated in space science and the two countries’ space agencies will be attending the 59th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) this week (29 September - 3 October), along with space agencies from all over the globe. A replica of the camera will be on display at the IAC.
The camera - C1XS – was designed and built at STFC Space Science and Technology Department in the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. It is an X-Ray Spectrometer that will measure X-rays to map the surface composition of the Moon which will help scientists to understand its origin and evolution, as well as quantifying the mineral resources that exist there.
Chandrayaan-1 is the first lunar mission from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is designed to orbit the Moon and carries radar & particle detectors as well as instruments that will make observations in the visible, near infrared and X-ray part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
ScotGov: Just how does this EU rule increase fish stocks? - Fishermen in Scotland are being forced to throw away up to £40m worth of fish every year, a special Discards Summit hosted by the Scottish Government in Edinburgh was told last week. EU rules mean almost a million tonnes of fish are discarded in the North Sea every year - for every North Sea cod caught & landed by Scots fishermen another has to be thrown away.
The summit marks the start of a campaign by ScotGov to change some of the European rules which force trawlermen to throw away fish which could be landed & sold. ScotGov believes that discards can be radically reduced if the fleet catches less fish overall, but is able to land the marketable fish (i.e. fish above the minimum landing size) it is currently having to discard.
It can be achieved by a number of means, including:
* firstly, making fishing nets more selective so that only fish above the minimum landing sizes are caught
* secondly, closing areas of the sea on a temporary basis where high abundances of certain species are found as has been happening under Scotland's innovative real-time closures scheme
* thirdly, through restricting the number of days which a boat is allowed to spend at sea (which saves fuel)
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CIOB: Tom Baldwin from Kingerlee and Laing O’Rourke’s Steven Sanzone have been named as the 2008/09 Sir Ian Dixon Scholars. The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), in conjunction with the Worshipful Company of Constructors, has run the Sir Ian Dixon Scholarship since 1998, covering a wide range of subjects.
The scholarship, which is awarded annually, involves a twelve month study of a Construction Management topic which is of mutual interest to the individual's host company, the Worshipful Company of Constructors, the CIOB and the individuals themselves.
Tom Baldwin from Kingerlee is investigating the economical & environmental impact of site waste management plans, and Laing O’Rourke’s Steven Sanzone is researching the impact of an organisation’s culture upon musculoskeletal disorders within the UK construction industry.
For the first time the CIOB’s Faculty of Architecture and Surveying is awarding a scholarship to support research in the field of architecture & surveying. Lisa Gould from Wates and Taylor Woodrow’s Robert Thompson are named as this years Scholars and will both be researching design management issues.
TfL: London Underground will commemorate the 90th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice in 1918 with a set of poems arising from recent wars. The new series will be displayed on Tube trains across London.
The collection includes poems such as ‘On Receiving News of the War’ by Isaac Rosenberg, who was killed in action just before the end of the first World War, ‘Parting in Wartime’ by Frances Cornford, whose son John was killed in the Spanish Civil War and a poem by an Afghani poet, Partaw Naderi, who has returned to Kabul after many years in exile following the decades-long turmoil in his country.
The Armistice anniversary will also be marked by a concert on Thursday 13 November, ‘the pity of war’ at St Johns Wood Church, with guest poet George Szirtes and music by Barber, Shostakovich, Takemitsu and Strauss performed by the Apollo Chamber Orchestra, conducted by David Chernaik. The concert is supported by the European Commission in the U.K. as part of the International Year of Cultural Dialogue - Click HERE for booking details
OS: Ordnance Survey’s site-centred mapping, OS Select, is getting a refresh: boasting a new look, better packaging and an improved finish. The new OS Select series still allows anyone to ‘site-centre’ Ordnance Survey mapping anywhere they like across Britain, but now features freshly designed, thinner packaging and enhanced print and paper quality.
OS Select helps avoid a life on the edge, allowing the user to decide what goes in the centre of the map. It could be any location that's important – someone's home, their town, or favourite walk. The maps are specially printed to order, including the customers' own personal title, like ‘Our Family Holiday’ for example, as well as a choice of selected cover photographs.
LDA: Londoners are set to reap the benefits of healthy and local food thanks to more than forty good food events currently being held across the capital. The events and projects are funded by the London Development Agency’s London Food Small Grants for Sustainable Food for London and are managed by the capital’s leading organisation working for sustainable food, London Food Link.
Projects funded by the scheme will reach Londoners where they live, work and play. Events include small, community harvest-time celebrations, sustainable seafood training for foodservice professionals and meet-the-producer exhibitions hosted by some of London’s award-winning and green-minded food businesses.
The programme, devised as part of London’s Food Strategy, helps Londoners host local events that communicate the importance of issues such as healthy eating and buying seasonal, local, Fairtrade & organic food.
YF: Screen Yorkshire is hoping to attract upcoming talent with fresh & exciting approaches to filmmaking as it launches a scheme (closes 12.00pm, Friday 24 October 2008) aimed at developing the next generation of writers, directors and producers. The Digital Shorts scheme, run in partnership with The UK Film Council, brings together individuals from across the region to form creative teams and has played a vital role in progressing filmmakers’ careers since its launch in 2003.
Screen Yorkshire is also holding a Find a Filmmaker networking event on 2 October 2008at Chilli White, Leeds from 6 - 8pm for individuals who are looking for other filmmakers to make up their creative team.
TfL: Transport for London has become the first transport authority in the UK to achieve a Level 5 rating for equality standards. The award was achieved by demonstrating real equality improvements in the delivery of its passenger services as well as its employment practices.
Improvements to the transport system include the operation of an entire fleet of low floor buses and the continued investment in step free access for Tube stations. TfL has also introduced dedicated equality training for all its employees and staff network groups have developed a more active support & development role.
STFC: The weather. It’s the one topic of conversation that unites Britain – umbrella or sun cream? Developed over 10 years, Cloud Radar can take a complete & accurate profile of cloud or fog up to 5 miles overhead. Operating at 94 GHz - 50 times higher in frequency than most mobile phones - the radar measures the cloud base height, its thickness, density and internal structure, as well as providing similar information on cloud layers at higher altitudes.
The Cloud Radar will not only allow forecasters to predict the weather more precisely, the information gathered will also enable aircraft pilots to judge more accurately whether it is safe to take off & land in diverse weather conditions, offering a powerful safety capability for civil airports and military air bases.
MO: The Met Office forecast for the coming winter suggests it is, once again, likely to be milder than average, but with the risk of colder spells at times. It is also likely that it will be drier than last year. The forecast of another mild winter across the UK has been welcomed by Help the Aged who work with other agencies to support older people.
Dr. James Goodwin, Head of Research at Help the Aged said: "The onset of winter causes significant anxiety among many older people. This forecast will assist policy makers to adapt their strategies to ensure that the negative effects of winter weather are reduced as far as possible."
Policy Statements and Initiatives
ScotGov: Pilot Inshore Fisheries Groups (IFGs) are being established in the Outer Hebrides, the Clyde and the South East, to be followed closely by 3 others in Moray Firth, the North West and Mull & the Small Isles. Over the course of the next 18+ months, the intention is to introduce 6 further IFGs, covering the whole coast.
IFGs are claimed to have commercial fishing interests at their heart. Fishermen's representatives will make up the IFGs' executive committees and, supported by expert advice and in liaison with all relevant interests, will be responsible for producing fisheries management plans for their areas, thus hopefully ensuring a prosperous & sustainable future for themselves and the communities they support.
DCMS: 9m people over 60 are set to get free swimming as Culture Secretary Andy Burnham announced that more than 80% of local authorities are to join a Government scheme. The initiative is part of a £140m Government investment in the sport that also includes free swimming for those aged ‘16 & under’ and capital for local authorities to upgrade pools.
For the over 60s, 300 out of 354 local authorities have confirmed that they will participate, offering free swimming to this age group between 2009 and 2011. For the under 16s, 296 local authorities have expressed their interest in claiming their share of the £50m fund for this age group, also covering 2009 and 2011.
Those local authorities that opt in for both the over 60s and under 16s pots will also share a £10m capital fund for 2008 / 09 (which will be administered by Sport England)to modernise & improve swimming pools.
DH: Three Local Authorities in deprived areas are being invited to bid to take part in a two year £20m pilot (beginning in September 2009), which will look at the health benefits of free school meals. It will investigate whether free school meals:
* reduce obesity / have an impact on a child's BMI
* change eating habits at home
* impact on behaviour & academic performance at school
* improve school standards
* improve general health & well being
DfT: Ruth Kelly, Transport Secretary, has announced £25m to provide new & improved bus services across England, intended to better connect local communities with vital services - like hospitals, business centres and colleges - and help tackle congestion and rural accessibility by giving people more alternatives to their car.
Over the last three years the Kickstart programme has helped councils and bus operators introduce 43 new or enhanced bus services. Councils will soon be invited to submit applications for the programme demonstrating how they will work in partnership with bus operators to develop long-term and viable schemes.
ScotGov: Funding of £3.5m to increase recycling rates in local communities across Scotland has been announced. Projects supported through the latest round of community re-use and recycling funding under the 'INCREASE (Investment in Community Recycling and Social Enterprise) III' programmeinclude:
* Developing facilities for testing, repairing and refurbishing second hand furniture & white goods and distributing to local housing associations
* Collecting non-hazardous paint products to reprocess & distribute through sales and donations
* Providing food waste collections from businesses, allowing the waste to be composted
* Gathering waste wood from businesses & domestic households and selling recycled products
TfL: The Mayor of London, Transport for London (TfL) and the Metropolitan Police Service have launched the latest phase of the Safer Travel at Night campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of using illegal cabs. The award-winning campaign has been very successful to date, with cab-related sexual offences down 44% since 2002. The proportion of women using illegal cabs to get home late at night has also fallen from 19% in 2003 to 3% in 2008.
However, 104 cab-related sexual attacks were committed in 2007 and recent research shows that 48% of late night travellers incorrectly believe that minicabs can pick up passengers that approach them in the street. Only licensed taxis (black cabs) can be hailed in the street or picked up at a rank without a booking.
WAG: Welsh Assembly Government Heritage Minister, Alun Ffred Jones, has announced that a new action plan would be developed to meet the challenge of boosting levels of physical activity in Wales. The new action plan, which will build on the existing strategies in place, will be produced by March 2009.
The Minister also paid tribute in his statement to the hard work and determination of all those involved in this summer of sporting success: the athletes, their families, coaches, the governing bodies of sport and the Sports Council for Wales. He said that a review will now examine how we can build on these achievements and further improve Wales’ performance on the national and international stage.
WAG: Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones has updated members on a number of areas where progress has been made to date in implementing the £27m programme to eradicate bovine TB in Wales. A comprehensive one-off test of all herds across Wales will be launched this week.
TB Health Check Wales will start on 1 October 2008 and means 3,500 additional herds being tested in a period of 15 months ending on 31 December, 2009. In effect this means that in 15 months WAG will be testing herds that would have normally taken four years to test.
Another significant development is that officials have been working closely with Animal Health as a matter of priority to ensure each office in Wales meets the current target for the removal of reactors and that an action plan is in place when the 20-day target is not met.
CLG: Local Government Minister, John Healey, has given the green light to 34 councils to raise £455m to meet their equal pay liabilities, either by borrowing against or selling assets - known as capitalisation. This will enable them to make one-off back-payments to thousands of employees - mostly women on low pay.
ScotGov: Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead has launched a consultation (closes on 19 December 2008) on the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) for 2010-2013. Speaking during a parliamentary debate, Mr Lochhead said: "Less-favoured areas comprise 85% of our agricultural land and are therefore an integral part of our agenda. LFASS provides £61m a year to support over 12,500 farming and crofting businesses”.
It is no longer clear that new European regulations for LFASS will come into effect in 2010. Nevertheless representatives on the Scottish Government's LFASS Stakeholder Group have said that they would like the interim scheme reviewed and for any necessary changes to be made for 2010-13. The consultation paper therefore sets out options for a second interim scheme for 2010-13, as well as seeking views on how we should respond to possible changes in the relevant European regulations.
ScotGov: Patients should wait no more than 12 weeks for surgery after being referred to hospital, thanks to the Scottish Government's forthcoming Patient Rights Bill. The guarantee promises patients awaiting inpatient or day case treatment increased assurance that treatment will be provided quickly, minimising waiting and anxiety for patients.
The initiative is one of a range of measures being brought forward by the Scottish Government as part of a consultation (closes 16 January 2009) on the Patients Rights Bill.
Every household in Scotland will also receive an annual NHSScotland ownership report setting out information on the rights & responsibilities of patients & carers, access to local services and how to get involved in the design & delivery of local health services.
Defra: Defra has launched a consultation (closes on 12 December 2008) on the National Control Programme (NCP) for the monitoring and control of Salmonella in broiler flocks (as supported by The Control of Salmonella in Broiler Flocks Order 2008).
The NCP is intended to reduce & control the prevalence of Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium in broiler flocks of domestic fowl to protect human health. It will be brought into force in January 2009 to comply with the requirements of EU Regulations 2160/2003 and 646/2007.
Defra hopes that the NCP will enable the UK broiler flocks sector to maintain its success in controlling Salmonella and to benefit from producers across the European Union applying consistent & comparable approaches. The purpose of this consultation is to agree an implementation programme which meets government obligations to public health and EU law, whilst taking into account the business needs of producers.
NA: The National Archives is urging people to have their say (by 30 November 2008) on the new National Collections Strategy, whichaims to support collection & preservation of records of major events, the lives & activities of individuals and communities, and public, private or charitable organisations. They hope that more such records will be found, kept and made publicly available.
The strategy will identify where there are gaps in the documentary heritage of England and Wales. They want to hear your views on its vision, aims & principles and your suggestions for making it a success.
CLG: Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has outlined plans for consultation (closes 19 December 2008) to make it easier for more people, from all walks of life, to volunteer for key roles in their local community. Magistrates, school governors and members of health bodies or police authorities already have time off entitlements. But Hazel Blears wants to take a fresh look at whether this should be extended to other roles to better reflect modern life and the needs of local communities.
Proposals include extending time off entitlement to those who want to help young offenders turn their lives around, get involved in making sure the local courts and probation services meet the needs of the community & council tenants who want to take an active role in the management of their estate.
WAG: A series of debates will be held to gather public opinion on whether Wales should become the first UK country to introduce a system of presumed consent to increase the number of organ donors. Because of a shortage of donors, 150 people have died in Wales in the last five years waiting for a transplant.
Events will be held across Wales in the next few months and a discussion document will also be issued by the Assembly Government to invite wider comment from the public.
ScotGov: A consultation (closes 21 November 2008) on police powers to retain DNA and fingerprint evidence has been published, alongside a report by forensic expert Professor Jim Fraser following his review of the existing regime – See ‘Legislation / Legal’ section for more information.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
YF: Yorkshire Forward is urging businesses across Yorkshire, who are concerned about the way flooding might affect them, to contact Business Link for help & advice, as it has created a flood risk assessment guide.
The Pitt Review, an independent publication on the flooding emergency commissioned by the Government, said that the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) provided a ‘crucial link between the needs of business and the policies of the Government’, putting businesses in touch with the necessary support and quickly & efficiently responding to the needs of local businesses.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health have published a guideline on the diagnosis & management of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, young people and adults.
ADHD is a common behavioural disorder in children and young people estimated to affect up to 3% of school-age children & young people in the UK and about 2% of adults worldwide. The symptoms of ADHD include:
* being inattentive (unable to concentrate for very long or finish a task)
* hyperactivity (fidgety & unable to sit still) and
* impulsive (speaking without thinking about the consequences)
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published final guidance on the use of oseltamivir, amantadine and zanamivir for the prophylaxis of influenza. This guidance does not cover the circumstances of a pandemic, an impending pandemic, or a widespread epidemic of a new strain of influenza to which there is little or no community resistance.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the National Collaborating Centre for Chronic Conditions has published a guideline which will help save lives of people with chronic kidney disease (CKD). The guideline sets out:
* how best to identify who has CKD
* who is at risk of progression & at risk of serious complications
* how to manage their care
CKD is a common condition encompassing problems such as abnormal kidney function or structure, with an estimated 3.4 million people in the UKhaving moderate or severe CKD. The majority of individuals with this condition do not experience any symptoms and therefore may be unaware that they have it, but there are simple tests which can detect the condition. If CKD remains undetected, it can progress to established kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplantation, very poor health and in some cases early death.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published new public health guidance on reducing the rate of premature deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD) and other smoking-related diseases. The guidance is designed to help tackle health inequalities by making recommendations about the best ways to identify & support those most at risk and improve access to services.
The Guidance has been developed specifically for smoking cessation services and the provision of statins and is aimed at general practices, PCTs, community services and local authorities with a remit for tackling health inequalities.
LLUK: In September 2007 the government introduced reforms to the education & development of teachers in England. The Further Education Workforce Reforms include the introduction of a new professional status and associated qualifications for teachers, tutors & trainers and apply to organisations delivering learning programmes funded by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC).
Lifelong Learning UK, together with partners, has created guidance to explain how the reforms impact on those who deliver Adult and Community Learning, Offender Learning and who deliver learning in the Third Sector.
General Reports and Other Publications
ESRC: Deploying UN and NATO peacekeeping forces can exacerbate insecurity for civilians in some countries, according to new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The in-depth study into peacekeeping in Haiti, Kosovo and Liberia showed why some peacekeeping operations are more successful than others and what role peacekeepers play in determining these outcomes.
OFT: The OFT has published its market study into the homebuilding sector which says that whilst the sector is broadly competitive, many homebuyers experience faults or delays. As a result, the industry has agreed to develop its own code of conduct and redress scheme for consumers.
The OFT found little evidence of competition problems with the delivery of new homes in the UK and there is no evidence that individual homebuilders have persistent or widespread market power giving them the ability to restrict supply in order to inflate prices.
However, the OFT found that homebuyers can experience a number of problems, which include:
* delays in moving in
* faults in new homes
* issues around the sales process including reservation fees, the clarity of information provided to homebuyers and potentially unfair terms & conditions in contracts
HC: The Healthcare Commission has said that Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust had responded positively to concerns that the Commission had raised about the safety of patients in Stafford Hospital’s accident and emergency department (A&E).
Last March, the HC launched an investigation into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, which is still ongoing. Investigators are looking into concerns about the trust’s mortality rate, as well as concerns about poor nursing care. The HC expects to publish its findings early in the New Year.
The trust has improved medical staffing levels and increased the numbers of nurses in A&E, but further recruitment is required for staffing to reach the levels recommended by the College of Emergency Medicine and to reduce reliance on temporary and junior staff.
CLG: A new report that identifies ways to help councils manage high concentrations of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) has been published. 'Studentification' of university towns is a real concern especially during the summer months when neighbourhoods are left dormant because too many properties HMOs in one area are rented to groups of students.
For example students from Queens University, Belfast typically live within a mile of campus and make up more than half of all households in the area with some streets exclusively occupied by students. The independent research sets out a series of measures including new planning mechanisms and the widespread adoption of a number of the best common sense local solutions that can be easily adopted.
HC: The Healthcare Commission has called for a new drive to improve the system for delivering urgent & emergency care across England. The call comes as it publishes a major review covering all urgent & emergency services which, for the first time, assesses how the whole system works together.
The review includes ambulance services, A&E, out-of-hours GP services, NHS Direct, urgent care provided by GPs, and urgent care centres including walk-in centres and minor injuries units. The Commission assessed three themes in each PCT area, how:
* services are accessed & delivered
* they work together to provide effective & efficient care to patients
* they are managed
The review shows that it is important for PCTs and healthcare providers to work more closely together to address gaps in the system. It says that PCTs and the Government must now drive improvements through the whole system to ensure people get the right care as quickly as possible.
CEL: The Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) has published a report of its research into further education & sixth-form colleges and their approaches to risk-taking in recruitment. The research work was prompted by the governing body of an FE college questioning its own approach and asking to what extent CEL supported the sector in making perceived high-risk appointments to senior roles, potentially creating wider diversity in senior management.
The research found that colleges appeared to be recruiting candidates from a wide range of age groups and there was evidence of appointments from outside the sector, with consideration being given to the importance of business skills & entrepreneurship, as well as to knowledge of the curriculum and a track record in FE.
There was, however, evidence of more conservative recruitment behaviours too, such as favouring candidates with lengthy experience, but not too close to retirement. Many governing bodies tended to err on the side of caution when making selection decisions.
Legislation / Legal
ScotGov: A consultation (closes 21 November 2008) on police powers to retain DNA and fingerprint evidence has been published, alongside a report by forensic expert Professor Jim Fraser following his review of the existing regime.
The Scottish Government consultation includes proposals to:
* allow police to retain, at least for a limited period, forensic evidence taken from a suspect who is subsequently dealt with by a fiscal fine, compensation order or work order, rather than prosecuted through the courts
* extend existing provisions allowing the temporary retention of DNA data from individuals charged with but not subsequently convicted of violent or sexual offences to include fingerprint data
* improve the governance, accountability & transparency of the collection, storage & retention of forensic evidence in Scotland and set out in statute the purposes for which DNA & fingerprint data can lawfully be used
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has welcomed the move by the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates last week to withdraw its rule banning so called 'mixed doubles'. The OFT had previously expressed concern to the Faculty that the rule, which said that Advocates and Solicitor Advocates (solicitors with higher rights of audience) should not appear in Court on behalf of the same client, could be anti-competitive and potentially in breach of the Competition Act 1998.
The withdrawal of the rule will allow clients to choose the professional legal services that best meet their needs, irrespective of whether they are provided by Advocates or Solicitor Advocates.
In Scotland, any Solicitor who wishes to acquire extended rights of audience must satisfy the Council of the Law Society of Scotland about both their professional conduct & reputation and their competency in the practice & procedure of the Supreme Courts. In addition they are required to pass an examination.
MoJ: An independent study shows that family courts are making great efforts with considerable success to secure child contact, following divorce or separation. Most contact arrangements are settled without going to court as the majority of parents agree these for their children between themselves. But around 10% of parents who cannot agree seek a court order for contact.
The study found no evidence that courts are biased against non-resident parents as a group. The courts start from the principle there should always be contact unless there are very good reasons why not. In most cases the courts were successful in securing contact for the non-resident parent. Court proceedings often start with no contact at all, yet most cases end up with face-to-face contact.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
DWP: A new whistleblowers' hotline to help catch benefit cheats living it up on the 'Costas' has been launched in Spain. In the first trial of its kind, ex-pats in Alicante who suspect benefit fraud will be able to report their concerns on a local number. Cases will be passed by the operator to investigators in the UK, who will also be able to draw on the team's on-the-ground intelligence.
The cost of benefit fraud committed abroad is an estimated £93m a year and it involves a range of scams such as people on means-tested benefits going abroad but not declaring their absence, an individual working while ‘sick’ and legitimate payments taken over after the rightful recipient dies.
The Spanish benefit fraud hotline number is 900 554 440. It is free & confidential and will initially operate 8am - 4pm, Monday to Friday. A supporting website has also been launched.
Press release ~ Spanish BF website
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: Young people across England have just a few weeks left to make their bid for funding for local activities and services from the Big Lottery Fund’s Young People’s Fund 2 (YPF2) Local Grants programme. The deadline for returning initial outline proposal forms is Thursday 16 October 2008.
Either working alone or in partnership with other organisations, companies and local authorities, grants of between £10,000 & £500,000 are available to voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations for local projects led by & for young people.
Projects must also help to achieve at least 2 of the 5 Every Child Matters outcomes – being healthy, staying safe, enjoying & achieving in life, making a positive contribution and having improved economic well-being.
Business and Other Briefings
BERR: Seven local authorities are trialling the Government's new Business Support Simplification Programme, hopefully ensuring it will be ready for implementation across the UK by 2010. The Government claims that it is streamlining over 3,000 publicly-funded schemes - including grants, subsidies and advice - into one national portfolio of up to 100 that will support businesses with greater impact. Businesses will be able to access a new, streamlined, portfolio of products from October, with all products in place by March 2009.
Topics to be trialled include:
* the fit with existing local authority funding
* how to reach disadvantaged communities and
* how best to meet the needs of specific business groups such as creative, ethnic minority, women and young entrepreneurs
HMRC: Moira Stuart has been officially unveiled as the new face of HM Revenue & Customs' (HMRC) Self Assessment advertising campaign. The well-known newsreader and presenter will star in ads publicising the new 31 October 2008 deadline for paper tax returns, as well as the 31 January 2009 deadline for online tax returns.
A new video podcast features Moira talking about her new role, the October TV ad, and help & advice on filling in your tax return.
This brief explains that deduction of tax at source is not required where interest on a security is treated as a distribution.
YF: Members of the public have been invited to attend Yorkshire Forward’s ‘Great Debate’ at the Regional Development Agency’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on the 3rd October at the Royal York Hotel, York. The debate is designed to give people an opportunity to question leaders of Yorkshire Forward about the growth of Yorkshire & Humber’s economy and how they are investing £357m of taxpayer’s money.
Yorkshire Forward has this past year, already helped 35,165 people improve their skills and assisted 11,217 people in Yorkshire and Humber to gain employment an improvement of 188% on a target of 3,895.
If you are interested in attending Yorkshire Forward’s AGM which starts at 10am, and contributing to the Great Debate please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0113 3949711/12.
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