Policy Statements and Initiatives
HO: At least ten children have been protected from potential abuse by sex offenders in the first six months of the Government's Child Sexual Offender Disclosure Pilot, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has claimed. This early ‘success’ has led to the decision to extend the scheme within the police forces involved and the pilot will be extended force-wide in Cleveland, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire (including the Isle of Wight). The fourth pilot site, Warwickshire, is already force-wide.
Under the terms of the pilot, launched in September 2008, a parent, carer or guardian can request that an individual (who has access to their child or children) is checked out for a record of child sexual offences. So far here have been a total of 153 enquiries & 79 applications from parents, carers and guardians. 10 disclosures have taken place.
If this individual is found to have convictions for sexual offences against children and poses a risk of causing serious harm to the child or children concerned, then this information may be disclosed to the person best placed to protect the child - usually the parent, carer or guardian.
Press release ~ Keeping Children Safe: the Child Sexual Offender Disclosure Pilot ~ Review of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenders ~ Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA)
ScotGov: 2 new schemes to help home owners struggling to keep up with mortgage payments have started:
* A new Mortgage to Shared Equity scheme involves the Scottish Government taking a financial stake in the home of an owner who is in danger of being made homeless
*A new, improved Mortgage to Rent scheme helps people facing repossession to stay in their home as tenants of a social landlord
The £35m Home Owners' Support Fund will fund both schemes over the next two years.
HO: New funding of £250,000 has been made available to help police more swiftly identify stolen mobile phones. The scheme will see the Police National Computer (PNC) linked to the National Mobile Phone Register (NMPR), enabling frontline officers to quickly & easily check if a phone has been registered as stolen from its rightful owner.
The Home Office and National Mobile Phone Crime Unit have also been working with industry to build safeguards into new developments in M-Commerce - which will see mobile phones being used like debit cards. They are developing a charter to ensure the roll-out of M-Commerce takes crime prevention into consideration.
Press release ~ National Mobile Phone Register (NMPR) ~ National Mobile Phone Crime Unit ~
WAG: All girls & young women in Wales born between1 September 1991 and 31 August 1995 will be offered the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine during school year 2009-10.
Health Minister, Edwina Hart said: “We must remember that vaccination will not protect against all HPV infections so it is important that everyone attends cervical cancer screening when they are called. Guidance will be issued to the NHS in the coming weeks so that they can undertake the planning necessary to implement the catch-up campaign from September this year”.
DIUS: Skills Secretary John Denham has pledged to help apprentices go to university and to ensure higher education meets the needs of students who have come up through a vocational route. A report published by the Skills Commission - Progression into Apprenticeships - praises the Government's progress in expanding apprenticeships and calls for a greater proportion of apprentices progressing to higher levels of learning.
The Government has affirmed its commitment to incorporating Apprenticeship frameworks into the UCAS tariff to make it simpler to go to university after an apprenticeship in its New Opportunities white paper, published in January 2009.
The Skills Commission report also recommends clearer mapping between diplomas & apprenticeships, so that people studying diplomas know precisely when and where they have acquired a qualification that is also part of an apprenticeship and what further qualifications they would need to complete the apprenticeship. The Government's higher level skills strategy will be published in April 2009.
Press release ~ Skills Commission ~ Progression into Apprenticeships ~ UCAS tariff ~ New Opportunities white paper ~ Consultation on the Specification of Apprenticeship Standards in England (closes 29 May 2009)
ScotGov: Parents are being urged to take the time to discuss drugs with their children - and so ensure they have the facts to hand if given the wrong information from others. The new 'Know the Score' campaign was launched by Minister for Community Safety Fergus Ewing and backed by the parents of Emma Caldwell, whose high-profile murder followed her descent into drug addiction.
The new KTS advertisements show two scenarios - one in a play park and the second on a bus - as examples of where children can be given inaccurate facts about drugs. The integrated marketing campaign, including television, radio and online advertising, will run until the end of April and aims to help parents improve their knowledge & confidence about drugs and so encourage them to discuss the issue with their children.
Defra: Pig farmers, meat processors, retailers, and the Government have agreed to work on areas of common concern for the benefit of consumers and the industry itself. The 17 members of the new Pig Meat Supply Chain Task Force, set up to identify the biggest challenges faced by the industry and suggest solutions, met for the first time last week. The group is working to improve the resilience of the supply chain and will carry out its work over the next 12 months. There will then be a review to determine whether it should continue.
Press release ~ Pig Meat Supply Chain Task Force ~ Love Bacon ~ Defra – welfare of pigs ~ Pig welfare under television spotlight
DH: Delivering the best possible care for patients will be at the heart of changes to the GP quality incentive scheme, the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF), Health Minister Ben Bradshaw has claimed. From 1 April 2009 the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) will oversee the annual process of reviewing the clinical indicators included in QOF.
The QOF rewards GP practices for managing some of the most common chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart failure; improving health; organising practices well; how patients view their experience at the surgery and the quality of extra services offered such as child health and maternity services.
Press release ~ NICE press release ~ Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) ~ Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) consultation responses ~ British Medical Association (BMA) ~ NHS Employers
WAG: First Minister Rhodri Morgan has issued a statement following the publication of the independent E.coli Public Inquiry report.
DIUS: 'TV Dragon' Peter Jones is going to carry out a review into the support that people, who want to start their own business, get from universities & colleges. More people are considering starting their own business as a response to the recession, anecdotal evidence suggests.
Many colleges and universities already provide training and support for budding entrepreneurs, ranging from the ‘Flying Start’ programme which helps graduates set up their own businesses, to training in tax law, employment law, bookkeeping and accounts for small businesses.