In the News
TfL: Cycling made easier & safer in London - The first of the Mayor's flagship cycling schemes to launch this summer gives cyclists clearly marked, direct & continuous cycle routes into central London. The two pilot routes are the first of 12 planned superhighways that aim to make it quicker, safer and easier for Londoners to commute to work by bicycle.
A key part of the Mayor's commitment to stimulate a cycling revolution in the Capital, the 2 pilot routes run from Merton to the City (via the A24 & A3) and Barking to Tower Gateway (via the A13 & Cable Street). Around 5,000 cycle journeys are currently made every day on both pilot routes, with TfL aiming to increase this to 27,000 cycle trips a day by 2013.
TfL has already installed 300 new cycle parking spaces along both pilot routes to cater for the anticipated increased demand from cyclists using Barclays Cycle Superhighways. Businesses within 1.5km of the two pilot routes which have more than 50 employees on one site can bid to TfL for funding for cycle parking, cycle training and cycle maintenance sessions for staff
The two pilot routes will allow TfL to test all of the measures for their effectiveness, helping to determine the scope and detailed design of the remaining 10 routes, which will be up and running by the end of 2015. Work is underway on the design of the next 2 routes, which will launch in summer 2011 and run from Bow to Aldgate and Wandsworth to Westminster.
NAO: Previous saving targets not being met - The National Audit Office has reported on how much the Treasury’s Value for Money savings programme has improved value for money across government. The programme aims to achieve government-wide annual savings of £35bn from 2008-09 to 2010-11.
The report concludes that the Treasury’s design addressed some weaknesses in earlier savings programmes and departments have made some progress in their management of their programmes compared with previous spending periods. Nevertheless, departments’ planned programmes did not contain sufficient contingency and it is unlikely that departments will achieve the government-wide target of £35bn of annual savings, which fully meet the Comprehensive Spending Review criteria, in 2010-11.
BIG: Caring for those who have to care - While most young people are now embarking on fun-filled school summer holidays, thousands of young carers are about to spend their break looking after a relative suffering from a disability or long-term illness.
Youth in Focus, a new £30m England-wide funding programme launched last week by the Big Lottery Fund, will provide vital support for young carers as well as other vulnerable groups – young people leaving youth offending institutions and young people leaving care.
The multi-million pound funding initiative will support projects that give these young people a voice and help them to access the advice & services that can support their day-to-day lives. There are currently 175,000 known young carers across the UK who look after a family member or loved one suffering from physical or mental illness, though it is thought there are thousands more hidden young carers.
The programme also aims to support young people leaving care between the ages of 15 & 25, so they get better access to education, housing, healthcare and employment advice & services. Young people leaving youth offenders institutions between the ages of 15 & 25 will also be supported to develop their life skills and get better access to services, particularly young men with learning difficulties and young women.
Newswire – AC: What chance of seeing a ‘lesser spotted police officer’? - 3 national watchdogs, the Audit Commission, HMIC and the Wales Audit Office, have found that the police in England & Wales could save up to £1bn (12% of central government funding) without reducing police availability. In 2 reports they outline where savings can be made, the impact on the police & public and likely impact of any further cuts.
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary's (HMIC) report ('Valuing the Police') shows that only 11% of the police are visibly available to the public, despite year-on-year increases to budgets for the last 40 years. HMIC warns that with looming budget cuts, the availability of the police to the public will be even further reduced, unless there is a total redesign of the police.
In the joint report - Sustaining value for money in the police service - the 3 organisations show where savings can be made: breaking down silos with forces working together, and a more efficient match between risk of crime and the number of police on duty to deal with peaks & troughs in demand.
Press release ~ HO response press release ~ AC: Sustaining value for money in the police service ~ HMIC: Valuing the Police ~ Related HO press release ~ Delivering the Policing Pledge - Early findings ~ Sir David Normington’s: Review of Data Collection ~ National Policing Improvement Agency ~ Local policing and Confidence unit ~ Police Service Strength: Government Response to the Committee's Fifth Report of Session 2009-10 ~ Community engagement in policing website ~ Directgov : Maps - Neighbourhood Policing Team ~ Crime mapping ~ Ten years of criminal justice under Labour: An independent audit – press release ~ Report (2.3Mb) ~ The National Reassurance Policing Programme ~ Funding levels and value for money
NAO: Nothing much seems to have changed in MoD - The Ministry of Defence does not place sufficient emphasis on financial management in its decision making, according to a report released by the National Audit Office. Annual financial plans at the MOD have been over-committed.
By the end of July 2009, the budget for the Department was exceeded by its forecast for the rest of that year by £700m. When the assumptions underlying the plan for 2010-11 were reassessed, the forecast deficit grew from £185m to over £500m.
The shortfalls in financial management have significant consequences. The over-commitment in future spending plans has led to additional savings being necessary. Finding these reductions mid-year is a time-consuming & destabilising exercise. Many areas have to revisit or adjust their plans leading to delays, material changes to project specifications and costly renegotiation of contracts with industry. Delaying projects also leads to significant increases in the project cost.
Newswire – Univ.St.A: Call for Papers - Special Edition on Freedom of Information and Open Government.
Today, as Governments throughout the world grapple with declining public trust & disengagement, freedom of information is perceived as delivering new opportunities to strengthen the transparency & accountability of public institutions in ways that could revitalise citizen engagement within the public policy and decision-making processes.
Despite the significance of freedom of information there remains a dearth of substantive, relevant scholarly research and critical debate. This call for papers for a Special Edition focussing on freedom of information and open government to be published in Information Polity: the International Journal of Governance and Democracy in the Information Age will bring together (in a 1 or 2 volume edition) a number of high quality, refereed articles.
Relevant articles from international & comparative perspectives are welcomed from across the social sciences and humanities. Theoretical and polemical articles will be welcome, as well as those deriving from research & practice. The Special Edition will also consider articles that provide robust & critical reviews of the existing freedom of information literature, as well as authoritative, well-researched case studies. For further information about the journal and manuscript style guidelines please see HERE.
BIS: Business Secretary, Vince Cable, has announced the next step in cutting the number of Department for Business quangos with the abolition of 4 more partner organisations. The Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property policy (SABIP), SITPRO (Simplifying International Trade) and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Advisory Body (WAB) will all close in the next year. The British Shipbuilders Corporation will be abolished next year.
The functions of SABIP will pass to the Intellectual Property Office, and the functions carried out by the remaining organisations will be passed to BIS. This announcement brings the total number of BIS quangos to be ‘abolished, merged or receive no further funding from the Department’ to 17. The next phase of streamlining is expected to be announced in the Autumn.
FSA: Asda has withdrawn some of its own-brand Salt & Vinegar, Variety and Boxed Crisps, because the salt & vinegar flavouring used in the crisps contains trace amounts of wheat gluten. This means the products, which are available in various multi-packs, are a possible health risk to anyone with an allergy or intolerance to wheat or gluten. The Agency has issued an Allergy Alert. If you have an allergy or intolerance to wheat or gluten you are advised not to eat these products.
CSPL: The Committee on Standards in Public Life has announced that it would be holding an inquiry into party political finance. The Committee held an exploratory hearing earlier this month to hear views on the current state of party finance and, following an assessment of the evidence provided at that hearing, has decided to undertake a full inquiry into the issue.
MoD: The period in which personnel injured in service can claim compensation is to rise from 5 to 7 years from point of diagnosis as part of a series of changes to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. The change, which will come into effect on 3 August 2010, is one of several to be introduced following the recommendations from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme Review last year.
The majority of these improvements require legislative amendment to the Scheme and will be implemented by February 2011, but some changes can be made more quickly and will take effect from August 2010.
MoJ: A young offenders institute in Reading is piloting a scheme that aims to reduce re-offending and anti-social behaviour among young offenders. The Personal Leadership & Personal Effectiveness Programme, which has helped more than 200 young offenders, aims to reduce re-offending by changing behaviour, building confidence and improving communication skills.
FSA: A Food Standards Agency has announced a new research strategy to tackle the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK has been launched. The UK’s main public funders of food safety research have joined together to publish a co-ordinated strategy to investigate the food bug campylobacter. This is the first time these organisations have agreed to a common set of objectives to tackle the problem.
The most recent figures suggest that 65% of raw shop-bought chicken is contaminated with campylobacter. Although cooking chicken properly will kill the bug, it is responsible for more than 300,000 cases of food poisoning and 15,000 hospitalisations a year in England & Wales.
MoD: After nearly 2 months of being operational in Afghanistan, the world's fastest helicopter, the Lynx Mark 9A, has proved to be a vital boost to the UK's battlefield capability.
The crews from the Army Air Corps that fly the aircraft say it has massively enhanced capability, as it is light & agile and perfect for the rapid deployment & extraction of small numbers of troops. They have increased fire power, more powerful engines and the ability to operate all year in the harsh 'hot & high' Afghan environment.
HO: A new deal to stop an estimated 100,000 stolen mobile phones, worth around £4m, being sold to recycling companies has been announced by Crime Prevention Minister, James Brokenshire. The agreement aims to close a loophole which sees thousands of phones - worth an average of £40 each – sold to recyclers each year.
Currently 90% of handsets reported stolen in the UK are blocked across all networks within 48 hours of reporting, making them useless in the UK to criminals trying to sell them on. However, blocked phones can still be used abroad, which has created a new market for stolen phones.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
WAG: Jane Hutt, Minister for Business & Budget, has announced the go-ahead for 3 innovative projects to improve the way public services are delivered in Wales:
* A £11m, 5 year project: ‘Transforming Procurement through Home-Grown Talent’
* The rolling out of the xchangewales e-Trading procurement function across the NHS service in Wales
* The opening the next phase of WAG’s Invest-to-Save Fund
BIS: A plan to foster growth & lock in the recovery has been published by the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, who argues in his paper - A Strategy for Sustainable Growth - that ‘striking the right balance between making savings to public spending and promoting sustainable growth is crucial. But in bringing spending under control the Government is determined to create an environment that enables businesses to invest with confidence, thereby putting the recovery onto a sustainable footing and preparing the economy for the future’.
DH: The Government confirmed its intention to retain the Food Standards Agency (FSA) with a renewed focus on its core remit of food safety policy & enforcement.
The Department of Health will become responsible for nutrition policy in England and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will become responsible for Country of Origin Labelling and various other non-safety-related food labelling and food composition policies in England.
HMT: The Chancellor, George Osborne and Exchequer Secretary, David Gauke have established the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS), which will undertake 2 initial reviews over the coming year. It will focus on tax reliefs and small business tax simplification (including IR35). It will publish the initial findings from the former in late autumn and from the latter by the 2011 Budget.
Over the past decade, the tax code has doubled to more than 11,000 pages and the UK slipped from 7th to 13th in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index between 1997 and 2009-10.
DH: The first step towards creating a sustainable care & support system for all adults, that ‘puts individuals and their families at its heart’, has been unveiled by Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley. In setting out to Parliament the terms of reference for the Commission on the Funding of Care & Support, he made clear that it will consider a range of funding ideas, including both voluntary insurance and partnership schemes. The Commission will report within a year.
Defra: Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, has announced reforms to over 30 of Defra’s (90) arm’s length bodies. A Written Ministerial Statement (29 June 2010) announced the abolition of the Commission for Rural Communities and the merger of Animal Health & the Veterinary Laboratories Agency. All approvals to carry out the abolitions & dissolutions of Defra’s ALBs will be made via the Public Bodies Reform Bill.
CLG: Communities & Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, has announced the Government's intention in principle to abolish the remaining 8 Government Offices for the Regions across England, subject to using the Spending Review to resolve consequential issues.
CLG: Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, has set out his vision for protecting the future of rural village life ‘for generations to come’, by giving local communities the power to build the homes they need. He has outlined a new right that will allow communities across England to come together and create new homes, shops, businesses & facilities.
CO: The PM has announced plans for 16 year olds to take part in a National Citizen Service (NCS). Government-backed pilots for the scheme will provide around 10,000 places. Aimed at school leavers aged 16, the pilots will take place from June to September 2011(following the end of the exam period) and will last for 7 to 8 weeks.
CO: The question voters will be asked in next year’s referendum on whether or not the country should adopt the Alternative Vote system has been made public with the publication of 2 Bills on constitutional reform.
The wording of the question is contained in the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, which will also reduce the size of the Commons from 650 to 600 MPs and establish boundary reviews to create more equal sized constituencies.
The Bill was introduced to the Commons for its first reading alongside the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill – See also Newswire – EC item in ‘Legislation / Legal’ section.
DH: Detailed proposals for how the NHS will improve healthcare outcomes for patients and judge its success have been set out in a public consultation (closes on 10 October 2010) by the Department of Health.
The publication, Transparency in Outcomes - a framework for the NHS, is the first in a series of specific consultations to be published in the coming weeks seeking the views of healthcare professionals, the public and other interested parties on the detailed proposals.
DH: The Government is asking for views from the public, health professionals and anyone else with an interest in local health issues, on 2 public consultations (closing on 11 October 2010) launched last week (this follows the publication on 12 July of the White Paper - Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS):
* Commissioning for Patients
* Local Democratic Legitimacy in Health
WAG: New plans for managing the growing risk of flooding & coastal erosion within Wales have been launched by Environment Minister, Jane Davidson. The National Strategy for flood and coastal erosion risk in Wales consultation (closes on8 October 2010) seeks views on the following 4 proposed objectives:
* reducing the impacts from flooding & coastal erosion on individuals, communities & businesses
* raising awareness of & engaging people in the response to flood & coastal erosion risk
* providing an effective & sustained response to flood & coastal erosion events
* prioritising investment in the most at risk communities
HCA: The Homes & Communities Agency is running an online debate to explore new ways to help bring more private sector homes back into use. Affordability issues, exacerbated by the current economic conditions have placed greater emphasis on the need to tackle empty homes.
Currently, there are 1.8m households on the social housing waiting list and over 762,000 empty homes, around half of which have been empty for more than 6 months.
A series of films have been produced to spark debate and provide the latest thinking from industry experts. The debate is running until 30 July 2010.
WAG: Environment Minister, Jane Davidson, has announced plans to revise Welsh planning policy so that it supports the Wales Assembly Government’s aspirations for renewable energy.
The announcement follows the Minister’s statement on 8 June 2010 in which she highlighted the need to update planning policy and outlined the way that this would be done. The consultation will close on 8 October 2010.
Newswire – HRFP: The Hutton Review of Fair Pay in the Public Sector, announced by the Chancellor in June 2010, has issued a call for evidence, inviting views from all interested parties on issues around fairness in pay.
The call for evidence is posted on the Fair Pay Review page on the HM Treasury website http://www .hm-treasury.gov.uk/indreview_willhutton_fairpay.htm and the deadline for responses is 6 September 2010.
Defra: Three consultations (all closing on 13 October 2010) have been published that will set out the policy objectives for UK governments in managing the UK seas, introducing marine planning & streamlining licensing. All 3 help to fulfil the coalition government’s commitment to deliver the Marine and Coastal Access Act.
The new planning & licensing systems will help the management of marine activities, such as providing energy, which contribute around £47bn to the UK economy; ensure on-going environmental protection of our seas; and give coastal communities a voice in the future uses of their marine environment. The outcome of these consultations will help to address the issues highlighted in Charting Progress 2, a comprehensive study on the state of the UK seas.
DfT: Proposals for the privatisation of the Port of Dover are set for further public scrutiny after Shipping Minister, Mike Penning, asked Dover Harbour Board to publish additional information about their plans. The period for further representations is expected to begin in the next few days and will close on 27 August 2010.
NICE: NICE is currently updating existing guidance published in December 2004 on the management of anxiety (management of adults with a diagnosis of GAD only). Draft recommendations have been published on the NICE website for public consultation (closes on 17 August 2010).
OFT: Protecting UK consumers online is the focus of a long-term strategy launched for consultation (closes on 13 October 2010) by the OFT last week. It proposes 3 broad areas for action to protect consumers and drive competition & economic growth in online markets.
The strategy identifies potential measures to promote protection including clarifying the levels of protection available for consumer-to-consumer sales, working with agencies to reduce spam, developing low-cost solutions for checking non-compliant websites and strengthening of payments systems for online purchases.
BIS: Skills Minister, John Hayes, has invited employers, individuals, colleges & training organisations to share their ideas on how they would like skills policy to be set out in the future. The consultation document - Skills for Sustainable Growth - outlines BIS’s vision for skills and what are expected to be the key elements of a strategy for delivering it.
This is complemented by the consultation FE and Skills Funding System and Methodology for Further Education colleges and training organisations, following an independent review by Chris Banks, CBE. Both consultations close on 14 Oct 2010.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority is implementing new powers granted by Financial Services Act 2010. The FSA has also issued a Consultation paper entitled 'Implementing aspects of the Financial Services Act 2010' (closes on 23 August 2010) and published final rules & guidance, including a new Handbook module, the Financial Stability and Market Conduct sourcebook.
Newswire – LC: Level crossings present the largest single risk of catastrophic train accident in Great Britain. In a consultation (closes on 30 November 2010) launched last week, the Law Commissions of England & Wales and of Scotland are seeking views on how the legislative framework governing the use, management and (where appropriate) closure of level crossings can be improved and safety risks reduced.
CLG: New additional estimates published last week show that the number of people sleeping rough on the streets could be more than treble the official national Rough Sleeping Count.
The most recent official count ‘showed’ there were 440 rough sleepers in England, but additional official experimental estimates show the figure could be as high as 1,247. This is because for the first time, all councils have been asked to submit estimates of the number of people sleeping rough on the streets in their area.
Previously, only councils which deemed themselves to have a problem had to do an official rough sleeping count, which was then submitted. This meant that only 70 councils conducted street counts leading to a total figure of 440 rough sleepers counted in England. Charities & councils are being asked for their views on proposed improvements to the count in a consultation (closes on 3 September 2010).
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
EHRC: A new guide to the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons (UNCRDP) has been published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The Commission's guide is intended to help disabled people to know what their rights are and how to use them. It will help people to challenge injustices and improve services for themselves & others and will help organisations understand what their responsibilities are.
The Convention, which was signed by the UK Government last year, sets out disabled peoples basic rights in one place. It covers health, education, employment, access to justice, personal security, independent living and access to information.
The UN convention also describes what the Government has agreed to do to make these rights real. It has until July 2011 to report back to the UN on its progress on this agreement. The Commission's guide also sets out how organisations can report to the UN.
Newswire - CABE: The coalition government's approach to localism marks a fundamental shift in the way to approach good design & ‘placemaking’, so councillors need to be better prepared to make decisions about urban design.
CABE has published online practical support for councillors using their power to influence the quality of their local area. Advice is offered to leaders & mayors; executive members & portfolio holders; committee members & ward councillors, to help them deliver good design and great places.
The new online resource includes 7 principles of urban design which can be used to decide whether a proposal is any good.
Newswire - CABE: People are travelling much further nowadays in their daily lives, for work, for shopping & for leisure. This means that housing & job markets now operate at a larger scale and hospitals & higher education institutions also have bigger catchment areas. All this affects the way in which places should be planned & designed.
CABE has spent 2 years trialling a flexible framework, Getting the big picture right, which advises a new approach to large scale urban design, with more working across local authority boundary ‘red lines’ on a map. Housing and job markets do not observe those red lines, nor do people notice when they are crossing them in the car or on the train.
WAG: Planning guidance (Technical Advice Note 6 (TAN 6) – Planning for Sustainable Rural Communities) that is intended to boost the rural economy and increase the provision of affordable housing has been launched by Environment Minister, Jane Davidson.
The guidance will make it easier for businesses to set up in rural areas and should help enterprises already located in the countryside to grow. It relaxes control over development in the countryside, whilst still ensuring that a measured approach is taken.
Another benefit of the guidance is that it will make it easier for farmers to build a new home on their land, so that they can pass their business on to a younger person, whilst continuing to live on the farm.
PB: The Parole Board has published its Annual Report & Accounts for 2009/10. The report records the work carried out by the Board last year to maintain its high standards of risk assessment during a year in which it faced the twin challenges of a growing backlog of cases and uncertainty over its future.
NE: The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) launched its latest annual report card recently providing the very latest updates on how climate change is affecting our seas. Almost 100 scientists from 40 leading UK science organisations, including Natural England, contributed to this peer-reviewed report, which covers 30 marine & coastal topics.
The report includes a new regional seas climate change impacts map, which highlights important differences in climate change impacts across UK regional seas. It shows that whilst many impacts are being seen in southern UK waters, future climate change will lead to impacts across all UK regional seas.
The report also takes a first look at how the UKCP09 climate projections can aid our understanding of future marine climate change impacts and (for the first time) covers air-sea exchanges of CO2, deep-sea habitats, waterbirds and human health.
General Reports and Other Publications
IfS: Considerable variation in the amount of wealth that households hold & how they hold it means that some will have been more exposed to falling asset prices during 2008 & 2009 than others.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimate that the best off will have lost most – households headed by someone aged 55–74 with a degree level qualification will, they estimate, have lost on average about £25,000 as a result of asset price falls between 2007 and autumn 2009.
Defra: The Rural Payments Agency must change to deliver better value for money and a better experience for its customers, Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said in response to an independent review of the organisation and its operations.
The Review, which was announced by Defra in September 2009, considered the current state of the RPA, as well as its readiness for a changed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after 2013.
Ofsted: Targeted support from local authorities and their partners is helping to meet the needs of vulnerable young people, according to a report published by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.
However, the report finds that local authorities have made limited progress in involving voluntary, community & private groups in providing youth services, and that the focus on providing services for ‘at risk’ young people risked undermining the youth activities available to all young people.
Newswire – Demos: The Home Office should abolish the £60m 'Preventing Violent Extremism' (PVE) programme to make the UK safer argues Demos. In a new report (From Suspects to Citizens), the independent think tank calls for PVE measures – which focus on community engagement and cohesion – to be ‘dismantled’.
Prevention work should instead be solely focused on stopping people with the intent to act or who are being targeted by recruiters.
It also argues that the Coalition Government must make good on its pledge to restore civil liberties by fighting non-violent extremism with argument, not legislation. The Home Office announced a review of the 'prevent' strand of the counter-terrorism strategy in its Structural Reform Plan published on 14 July 2010.
HMT: Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban MP, has announced that the Coalition Government has published the final report by Sir John Chadwick in relation to losses suffered as a result of Government maladministration in the regulation of Equitable Life.
NAO: The Community Care Grant has an important role in helping vulnerable people to establish themselves in the community and in easing exceptional pressure on families.
The scheme is deliberately designed to be flexible so that it can provide help in good time to those who need it, but the scheme as currently designed does not deliver value for money, according to a report published by the National Audit Office.
NAO: Firebuy, a specialist body established by the Department for Communities and Local Government to support procurement of kit by Fire & Rescue Services, has cost nearly twice as much to set up & run as the total savings it claims to have delivered according to a report to Parliament by the National Audit Office.
Legislation / Legal
Defra: The Government intends to introduce provisions to the proposed Decentralisation and Localism Bill, amending the Climate Change Act 2008 to remove the powers that allow Local Authorities to pilot waste reduction schemes – including charging householders based on how much they throw away.
She also announced that Defra will not be further considering Bristol City Council’s current proposal to pilot a waste reduction scheme under the Climate Change Act.
MoJ: The UK ‘will reinforce its reputation as one of the least corrupt countries in the world, when the Bribery Act comes into force in April 2011’. In September 2010 the Government will launch a short consultation exercise on the guidance about procedures which commercial organisations can put in place to prevent bribery on their behalf.
This will be published early in 2011 to allow businesses an adequate familiarisation period before the Act commences. The consultation will be followed by a series of awareness-raising events to ensure everyone is aware of the changes the Bribery Act makes to the current law.
MoJ: The Government is proposing new rules about how courts in England & Wales deal with people accused of serious human rights violations. There are a small number of offences over which the UK has 'universal jurisdiction'. That means that a suspect can be prosecuted in the UK regardless of where the crime was committed, or the nationality of the perpetrator or victim.
At the moment anyone can apply to the courts for an arrest warrant. However, because the evidence necessary to issue an arrest warrant may be far less than would be needed for a prosecution, the system is open to possible abuse by people trying to obtain arrest warrants for grave crimes on the basis of flimsy evidence to make a political statement or to cause embarrassment.
In the past, attempts have been made to obtain warrants to arrest visiting foreign dignitaries such as Henry Kissinger, Chinese Trade Minister Bo Xilai and Tzipi Livni, former Foreign Minister and now leader of the Opposition in Israel.
Newswire – EC: The Electoral Commission – the independent elections watchdog – has welcomed the publication of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill as an important step in setting out the rules under which a referendum on voting reform will take place.
The Commission has published a paper setting out its position on the timing of the referendum, which is due to take place on 5 May 2011, the same day as scheduled elections to the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales, Northern Ireland Assembly, 280 local authorities in England and possible local elections in Northern Ireland.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: The EU has launched the European e-Justice portal – an electronic one-stop-shop for access to justice throughout the EU. The web site benefits citizens, businesses, lawyers and judges with cross-border legal questions and boosts mutual understanding of different legal systems by contributing to the creation of a single area of justice.
With more than 12,000 pages of content, the first version provides information & links on laws and practices in all Member States. For example, the portal offers information on legal aid, judicial training, and videoconferencing, as well as links to legal databases, online insolvency and land registers.
New information, tools and functions will be added to the portal in the next few years. Fact sheets on defendants' rights and victims' rights in all EU Member States will be available in early 2011, including, for example, information on how road traffic offences are dealt with in different countries. These fact sheets will serve as a basic reference tool for legal practitioners as well as citizens.
EU News: A work plan which allows Zimbabwe the possibility to make limited exports of rough diamonds from its Marange diamond field has been agreed at the meeting organised by the Chair of the Kimberley Process in St Petersburg on 14 and 15 July 2010.
The Kimberley Process grew out of discussions in May 2000 in Kimberley, South Africa among interested governments, the international diamond industry and civil society, as a unique initiative to combat ‘conflict diamonds’ – rough diamonds used to finance devastating conflicts in some of Africa’s diamond-producing countries.
Press release ~ EU and the Kimberley Process ~ IP/10/856
EU News: The European Commission has presented an overview of existing EU instruments regulating the collection, storage or exchange of personal data for the purpose of law enforcement or migration management.
The communication clarifies the main purposes of these instruments, their structure, the types of personal data they cover, the list of authorities that have access to such data and the provisions governing data protection & retention.
FSA: An EU-wide health warning must now be put on any food or drink that still contains the colours that are thought to cause hyperactivity in some children. This is following the Southampton Study, commissioned by the Food Standards Agency, which suggested a possible link between consumption of 6 food colours and hyperactivity in children.
Any food & drink containing any of the 6 colours, except drinks with more than 1.2% alcohol, will now have to provide a warning on the label that the colour ‘may have effects on activity and attention in children’. This becomes mandatory across the EU from 20 July 2010. Food & drink produced before 20 July 2010 can continue to be marketed, so it may take time for newly labelled products to appear on some store shelves.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
Newswire – BHF: The British Heart Foundation are launching a new campaign, warning households to be vigilant when making doorstep donations of second-hand goods to their chosen charity, as they could be lining the pockets of third party organisations working for commercial gain, not the charity. The BHF has not formed a partnership with these ‘middlemen’ meaning their activity is costing them an estimated £3m in stock donations.
Although this is a legal way to raise money, too often charities who form partnerships with these companies are being short-changed. BHF are encouraging people to 'check before you give'. Help them raise awareness of the problem in your area by writing to your local newspaper.
BIG: While most young people are now embarking on fun-filled school summer holidays, thousands of young carers are about to spend their break looking after a relative suffering from a disability or long-term illness.
Youth in Focus, a new £30m England-wide funding programme launched last week by the Big Lottery Fund, will provide vital support for young carers as well as other vulnerable groups – young people leaving youth offending institutions and young people leaving care – See ‘In the News’ section for more information
Business and Other Briefings
HO: From last week, a temporary limit on the amount of people from outside Europe who can work in the UK came into force. This limit will operate until March 2011 when a permanent limit comes into effect. The government is consulting business about what the permanent limit should be.
Under the interim limit, the number of highly skilled people without a job offer entering the country is 5,400. To raise standards in this category of the government's points-based system, the pass mark for eligibility will rise by 5 points. Meanwhile, the number of skilled migrants allowed to enter the country with a job offer is 18,700.
ScotGov: A series of public events will be held to give parents, teachers & others who care about the future of Scottish education the chance to air their views and have their voice heard at the highest level of government.
The road shows build on the recent launch of engageforeducation.org which has created an ongoing dialogue on education between the public and the Scottish Government. The first events will take place in Inverurie, Alloa and Benbecula, with more to follow over the coming year.
Press release ~ Engage for Education website
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