Friday, May 22, 2009

The 'family wreckers': British social workers attacked over race rules that rob foster children of a caring home

Social workers were under fire last night after a report revealed they were breaking up foster families because the parents were the wrong colour. It said official attempts to take mixed-race and black children away from white foster parents are heard 'regularly' in the family courts. Race rules say they can only be adopted by adults of the same ethnic background. The guidance claims ethnic minority children suffer mental health difficulties if brought up by white parents.

But critics attacked the policy as misguided. Patricia Morgan, an author on adoption and the family, said: 'There is no evidence that children brought up by parents of a different race suffer mental health problems. 'If that was true President Obama would be a danger to us all.' The U.S. leader was born to a white American mother and an African father.

The research on fostering and race, carried out for the Department for Children, Schools and Families, said social workers were 'confused' about why race rules were being used to decide the future of children. It said they were guided by skin colour, and when they spoke about culture 'they were often referring only to ethnic categorisations'.

The Bristol University researchers said that of 50 ethnic minority children whose adoption cases it followed, only 13 actually found new parents due to the insistence on 'same race placements'. In one case a nurse offered to adopt an ethnically mixed child with severe disabilities. She was turned down because she could not meet the 'Polish element' in the child's ethnicity. The child remained in state care.

Children who are adopted do much better than children left in the state care system, where most get no school qualifications and go on to lives of unemployment, drug addiction, crime and prostitution. The report is to be published in full later this summer.

Its disclosure comes after last week's row over the state-funded British Association for Adoption and Fostering's guide for gay couples. It referred to opponents of gay adoption as 'retarded homophobes' who 'need an excuse to whinge'. It later apologised.`

BAAF remains one of the greatest advocates of applying race rules to adoption. But the Bristol report said this results in regular attempts at the deliberate destruction of foster families in which parents and children have formed a bond. In cases followed for the Pathways to Permanence for Black, Asian and Mixed Ethnicity Children report, the courts found in favour of the foster carers, it said. It added that the hearings led to 'professional disagreements' and 'disarray' in relationships between local councils and foster parents.

Tory MP Julian Brazier said: 'The problem goes back to adoption law. Some of us warned when the Adoption and Children Act was passed in 2002 that this would happen.' The Act - which first allowed gay couples to adopt - says that in adoption there must be 'due consideration to the child's religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background'. A spokesman for the DCSF said: 'We know that children thrive better if adopted by a family who share their ethnic origin or cultural group, as well as meeting their other needs.'


British court rules taxi driver falsely accused of rape can receive compensation in legal first

A taxi driver falsely accused of rape could receive a five-figure compensation payout after winning a landmark victory. Clive Bishop, 49, says his life was ruined after a drunken 17-year-old passenger claimed he attacked her. Kirsty Palmer later admitted she made up the allegations and was jailed for ten months for perverting the course of justice.

When he applied for compensation, Mr Bishop described how months of living under a cloud of 'slurs and lies' had caused him enormous suffering. But the foster carer was twice refused a payout by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority on the grounds he had not come to physical harm. That ruling has now been overturned on appeal - the first time the authority has agreed to compensate for the mental trauma of a false criminal accusation. It is not known exactly how much he will receive but his lawyers estimate it could be up to £10,000.

Mr Bishop, who has fostered ten children with his wife Sue, picked up Palmer in his taxi from a nightclub in February 2007. The mother of two was drunk and had already been sick. But only hours after dropping her at her home, police arrived at Mr Bishop's house at 4.30am and arrested him in front of his wife on suspicion of rape. Mr Bishop said: 'I kept trying to explain to the police that it was nonsense. 'But I kept being told to shut up. I was in shock but convinced that they'd realise I hadn't done anything and let me go.'

Mr Bishop was questioned for 12 hours before being subjected to 'humiliating' intimate forensic examinations and bailed. His taxi was also seized for forensic examination and he was under police scrutiny for a further three months. Ostracised by his community, Mr Bishop says he tried to return to driving his taxi, but found himself unable to find work.

Months later, Palmer confessed that after being locked out of her house in her drunken state she had knocked on a neighbour's door and falsely claimed she had been raped. But despite her admission, Mr Bishop was twice refused compensation because he had no physical injuries. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority overturned those decisions last week at a closed hearing in Taunton, Somerset.

Mr Bishop will now undergo a psychological evaluation to determine the amount he will be eligible to receive before officially applying for compensation later this year. The amount he gets will depend on the psychological damage he suffered from the incident as well as his lost earnings.

Yesterday Mr Bishop, from Walton in Somerset, told how he had been 'to hell and back'. 'It's been such a difficult time for me and my wife,' he said. 'They claim you are innocent until proven guilty but in reality that is not the case. People always assume the worst and we had to live with three months of slurs and lies about my character. 'That is why this ruling is so important to me - I could not ever drive a taxi again so this decision will make a huge difference to my life. I'm just so very happy and relieved.'

His lawyer Russell Pearce said: 'It is a landmark case - especially for all those who have suffered the extensive trauma that a false allegation can bring. 'This now means that in the future other people will be able to make an application, which is very important.'


NHS kills thousands. Compensation paltry

Thousands of haemophiliacs who contracted HIV and hepatitis C from infected blood have “only had their anguish compounded” by a new Government statement on compensation, the head of the inquiry into the scandal said today. Lord Archer of Sandwell, who conducted a two-year review of how haemophiliacs were given NHS transfusions of contaminated blood, said the response from ministers was “deeply disquieting”.

Dawn Primarolo, the public health minister, announced today that haemophiliacs who contracted HIV from infected blood will receive annual payments of £12,800, double the current sums paid through trusts set up to support victims. Some 4,670 haemophiliacs who received blood transfusions in the 1970s and 1980s were infected with hepatitis C, of whom 1,243 were also infected with HIV.

However Ms Primarolo said that The Skipton Fund - which provides lump sum payments to people infected with hepatitis C - will receive no extra funding. She added that ministers will review the situation again in 2014.

Responding to the announcement, Lord Archer said: “The Government response is a faltering step that only compounds the anguish of the afflicted and bereaved. “It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that humanitarian impulses have come a bad second to Treasury constraints.” He branded the new funding for patients with HIV, “paltry” and said the failure to increase help available to victims with Hepatitis C and to offer payment to their dependants was, “sadly lacking both in understanding and in compassion”.

For years the NHS used imported blood from the US to treat haemophiliacs. It was often collected from paid “skid row” donors such as prison inmates who were more likely to have HIV and hepatitis. Nearly 2,000 people have died as a result of exposure to the tainted blood.

The Archer inquiry heard evidence from Lord Winston describing the blood contamination as “the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS”. Lord Archer suggested a Government apology, a statutory advisory panel and compensation at least equal to that paid to patients in Ireland where those infected with HIV from contaminated blood received up to 101,000 euros and those who contracted hepatitis C were paid on average 853,636 euros.

But the Government rejected campaigners’ demands for substantial compensation payments, instead announcing a slight increase of funding for the Macfarlane and Eileen Trusts to allow annual payments of £12,800 to each HIV infected person. Both trusts will also be given more funding so they can make higher payments to the families and dependants of victims. Spouses of those who die as a result of the infection will still not get any financial help from the Government.

The minister also rejected calls by Lord Archer for a government advisory committee on haemophilia. Instead she said the Department of Health will invite the Haemophilia Alliance - a group of patients, haemophilia doctors, and those involved in their care - to meet with the Government twice yearly. Ms Primarolo also pledged £100,000 each year for the next five years to the Haemophilia Society. She said: “I thank Lord Archer for his very thorough report. The Government has the greatest sympathy for those who have been affected and deeply regrets that these events came about following NHS treatment."

Chris James, chief executive of the Haemophilia Society, said the Government had tried to “water down” and “ignore” Lord Archer’s recommendations and presented “a collection of half-measures”. He said he would write directly to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Tory leader David Cameron and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg asking for an urgent meeting because the Department of Health, he said, “have shown themselves to be incapable of the simple human compassion and understanding required to deal with the victims of this disaster”. No health minister attended the two-year inquiry, despite repeated requests. “The Government claims to accept the moral case for action but then, by not implementing the recommendations in full, it shows its contempt for the victims.”

Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, said: “The Government’s response is deeply disappointing and underlines how appallingly it has behaved over this issue. This is one of the most serious tragedies in the history of the NHS.”


70% of Britons want big cuts in the rate of immigration

Seven out of ten adults want a massive cut in immigration, a poll has revealed. The YouGov survey found that just one person in 20 supports the current record levels, which have boosted Britain's population by 300,000 a year over the past five years. The findings suggest immigration could become a significant election issue and sparked warnings that voters could turn to extremist parties if mainstream politicians fail to acknowledge their concerns.

The poll, commissioned by MigrationWatch for the Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration, was published on the eve of the release of immigration figures today. It found that 79 per cent of people were concerned or very concerned about immigration. Seventy per cent of the 2,072 respondents favoured cutting levels by 80 per cent or more. Of those, 17 per cent said net immigration should be brought below 50,000 a year - a level last seen in the early 1990s.

Another 39 per cent favoured a policy of zero net immigration, with the numbers settling in the UK matching the numbers emigrating. Sixteen per cent said the number of immigrants should be lower than those leaving. Just over half of more affluent voters - ABC1s - wanted either zero or negative net immigration, while 63 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds favoured a figure below 50,000.

Home Office ministers say their new points-based immigration system represents a tough crackdown. [Crap! It affects only a tiny proportion of arrivals] But critics say it will have little effect, especially as Britain has no control over the numbers arriving from EU states, including eastern Europe.


Alzheimer’s research links postponed retirement with later onset

I am glad that there is at least SOME humility expressed below about the implications of the correlation. That early signs of Alzheimers might tend to force people into retirement seems not to have been considered. So which is it?" Early retirement causes Alzheimers or Alzheimers causes early retirement?" Nobody knows -- despite the confident pronunciamentos from some of the people quoted below. The usual epidemiological crap

Working until 65 or beyond could postpone the onset of dementia. A study of 382 men found a significant association between later retirement and later onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The research supports previous theories that keeping the mind active for as long as possible can help to postpone mental decline. In contrast to earlier studies, however, the researchers found that the quality or duration of the men’s education or the type of work they did had no impact on the age of onset of the disease.

The team from Cardiff University and the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, identified men with “probable” Alzheimer’s disease from clinical databases from the Medical Research Council and Alzheimer’s Research Trust. They compared their retirement dates and found that every extra year worked postponed the onset of dementia symptoms by nearly six weeks.

The National Institute for Economic and Social Research has suggested that the official retirement age be raised to 70 within a decade to mitigate the effects of government debt.

Publishing their findings today in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, the study authors say that the association between later retirement age and later Alzheimer’s onset was “significant”. But, they add, there could be several explanations for this, including previous ill health having influenced a decision to retire. Further studies were needed across a wider group of people to confirm the findings, they said.

The Alzheimer’s Society said: “There could be a number of reasons why later retirement in men is linked with later onset of dementia. Men who retire early often do so because of health conditions, such as hypertension or diabetes, which increase your risk of dementia. It could also be that working helps keep your mind and body active, which may reduce risk of dementia. “The best way to reduce your risk of dementia is to combine keeping physically active, with eating a balanced diet and getting your blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly.”

There are 700,000 people in Britain with dementia, 417,000 of whom suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. It is expected that a further one million people will develop dementia in the next ten years. The average age of retirement for the men in the study was 63.3 years. The average age of onset of Alzheimer’s was 75.6 years.

Simon Lovestone, scientific adviser to the Alzheimer’s Research Trust and the paper’s co-author, said: “The intellectual stimulation that older people gain from the workplace may prevent a decline in mental abilities, thus keeping people above the threshold for dementia for longer. Much more research is needed if we are to understand how to delay, or even prevent, dementia.”

Rebecca Wood, chief of the research trust, which funded the study, said: “More people than ever retire later in life to avert financial hardship, but there may be a silver lining: lower dementia risk. Much more research into lifestyle factors is needed if we are to whittle down the £17 billion a year that dementia costs our economy.”


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