HMIP: Is there still time to build the prisons before meltdown? - In her 2006 – 07 annual report, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, Anne Owers, warns that the prison system, which has made significant improvements over the last few years, is at a crossroads - struggling to cope with current pressure and facing serious challenges in the future.
The report recognises progress in healthcare, offender management and the quality of education &skills training in recent years. But it also records the effects of a ‘predicted & predictable’ prison population crisis. In addition, there has been a dramatic rise in self inflicted deaths in custody, which rose by 40% during the reporting year.
Anne Owers commented: “This year, training prisons, as well as local prisons, felt the strain, with more suicides, poorer resettlement outcomes and in many cases insufficient activity…….. Nevertheless, it is a credit to those running and working in the prison system that prisons have remained as safe and decent as they have, in this period of unprecedented pressure – facing not only increased numbers, but also increased expectations. But at the same time there is evidence of slippage and of a system and a workforce that are ill-placed to take further pressure”.
The Chief Inspector points to further concerns in the future, including 3% ‘efficiency savings’ that will effectively close prisons down from Friday lunchtime to Monday morning as from April 2008, with further savings required in each of the following 2 years.
She also points to the dangers of investing in prison building, at the expense of sufficient investment in the full implementation of the Corston report on vulnerable women and innovative proposals to reduce re-offending & deal with underlying problems.
Finally, the Chief Inspector calls for a Royal Commission or major public inquiry that draws on a wide range of expertise to develop a blueprint for a coherent and sustainable penal policy for the future.
CSPL: Honourable Members? - Sir Christopher Kelly, Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life has commented on the recent report by the Parliamentary Committee on Standards and Privileges on Derek Conway MP.
Sir Christopher said: "This case is undoubtedly a very serious breach of Parliamentary rules and further undermines public trust in our politicians. I understand why there are calls for rules to ban MPs employing members of their families, and indeed, there are international precedents for doing this, and it could be the right thing to do.
However, it could also seem a rather harsh answer to the problem. An alternative approach would be to insist on greater transparency and proper monitoring of existing requirements which is generally better than creating new rules and prohibitions. This is certainly an area which needs review".
ScotGov: Scotland lead the way yet again - The Scottish government (ScotGov) has unveiled a proposal for a statutory target to reduce Scottish emissions by 80% by 2050 as one of the key components of a consultation on Scotland's first Climate Change Bill. It signals Scotland's serious intent to lead the global effort to combat climate change.
Further proposals include:
* Robust annual scrutiny & reporting of progress in achieving the government’s targets
* Creating a framework of carbon budgets for Scottish emissions to set out a pathway towards the 2050 target
* Publishing transparent & independent advice on when (and to what level) cuts in emissions should be made
The consultation on proposals for the Bill will run until April 23, 2008 and ScotGov hopes to be ready to introduce a draft Bill to the Scottish Parliament before the end of 2008.
At a breakfast meeting hosted by the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland (CIOBS), Mr Swinney set out the challenge of climate change and invited ideas on how the banking & financial services industry can work together with the Scottish Government to respond to this. The meeting had a particular focus on housing-related products & services such as green mortgages and loans for domestic energy efficiency works.
DIUS: Just a re-announcement - The government has published its Apprenticeships Review which outlines the measures it will take to ensure apprenticeships become a mainstream option for young people, as well as plans to boost apprenticeships for older learners.
Last November the Government announced increases in funding to expand the Apprenticeship programme over the next three years for both young people & adults and this latest review sets out how:
* that expansion will be delivered
* the quality of apprenticeships will be improved
* better support will be offered to employers providing high-quality apprenticeship places
The plan sets out objectives to make apprenticeships a mainstream option for 16-18 year olds, alongside other education & training routes and to ensure that an apprenticeship place is available for all qualified young people by 2013, with significant growth in apprenticeships for older learners as well. On this basis, it anticipates that 20% of all young people will be undertaking an apprenticeship within the next decade.
The 'Apprenticeship Review' is published alongside a joint command paper, 'Ready to Work, Skilled for Work: Unlocking Britain's Talent' from DIUS and DWP. This sets out how Government intends to work with business and employers to raise the skills of the country.
Industry News: Comet ‘walks the green walk’ for its business customers– An initiative from Comet demonstrates that it is committed to providing a ‘green’ service to their business customers, so reducing the impact both Comet and its clients have on the environment.
This starts with providing typical energy usage information for a whole range of domestic appliances; from in-use & standby information on all our TVs, DVD players, set-top boxes and computers, through to our fridges, dishwashers and washing machines. Better yet they have ‘The Green Collection’, which is made up of their most energy efficient products.
To make recycling easier for their customers, Comet has contributed to a national fund to help local authorities improve their recycling facilities and they offer three ways to recycle your old products safely.
Internally they have set up ‘The Energy Team’, which has created an integrated approach to energy issues across Comet, leading to a significant reduction in energy consumption - Comet’s Stevenage Store alone reduced its energy bill by 36% in 2007. As a result they have received an 85% score from The Carbon Trust – one of the highest scores to date for an energy audit.
Finally they have minimised the impact of 2m deliveries a year by keeping vehicle tyres at the optimum pressure to reduce fuel wastage, capping the vehicles’ top speed and implementing a new vehicle routing systems that has saved over a million delivery miles per year.
For other Industry News please click HERE
For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar