£50,000 true cost of year in jail, study finds

May 26, 2007

The cost of sending a criminal to jail could be a third more expensive than previously thought, a report warned yesterday.

The true bill for a year in prison could be as high as £49,220 when the price of supporting the offender’s family was taken into account. This compares with the existing estimate of £37,500 a year for the cost of the “bars and walls” of the jail itself.

The study by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (CCJS) and the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, concluded prisoners’ families were “hidden innocent victims” who experienced significant impoverishment.

The extra cost of sending someone to jail could include NHS bills for treating the offender’s relatives, for example for depression. Other expenses could include foster care for children or a home help to assist with chores.

£50,000 true cost of year in jail, study finds | Uk News | News | Telegraph

Violence ‘a problem for children’

May 26, 2007

Violence is seen as a “major problem for young people” by more than 80% of 11 to 16-year-olds, according to a survey for a children’s charity.

The NSPCC survey found that 42% of children had been hit, punched or kicked at secondary school.

Three-quarters had been bullied at school, while one in four had seen adults in the family being violent.

 The charity wants Gordon Brown to use his first 100 days as prime minister to tackle violence against children.

According to the survey, large number of UK youngsters were witnesses to violence, with 59% saying they had seen violence or bullying between young people on the street.

BBC NEWS | UK | Violence ‘a problem for children’

Midwives consider industrial action

May 26, 2007

Midwives are considering strike action over the last pay deal offered to them.

It is the first time in the Royal College of Midwives’ (RCM) 125-year history that such a move has been discussed and reflects unhappiness within the profession at pay and conditions.

Earlier this week the survey of heads of midwifery in England found that midwifery services are struggling to keep up with the rising birth rate.

Delegates at the RCM’s conference in Brighton unanimously voted to ask the group’s governing council to consider balloting the college’s 37,000 members about industrial action, short of a strike.

Midwives have been offered a staged pay award of 2.5 per cent, but with the Retail Price Index inflation running at 4.5 per cent the RCM argues that the offer is in real terms a pay cut.

Midwives consider industrial action

Rapid rise in global warming is forecast

May 18, 2007

The oceans are losing the capacity to soak up rising man-made carbon emissions, which is increasing the rate of global warming by up to 30 per cent, scientists said yesterday.

Researchers have found that the Southern Ocean is absorbing an ever-decreasing proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The excess carbon, which cannot be absorbed by the oceans, will remain in the atmosphere and accelerate global warming, they said.

The reduced ability to absorb carbon is thought to be a result of high winds acting on ocean currents bringing deeper waters that already contain high levels of carbon to the surface.

The higher winds are themselves believed to have been caused by climate change due to a combination of changes in the ozone layer and carbon emissions.

The scientists from countries including Britain, France and Germany, said their findings marked the first time that one of the world’s natural “carbon sinks” had been shown to be weakened by Man’s own actions.

Ian Totterdell, a climate modeller at the Met Office Hadley Centre, described the research as “an important piece of work”.

He said: “This is the first time we have been able to get convincing evidence that a change in the uptake of CO2 by the oceans is linked to climate change.

Rapid rise in global warming is forecast-News-UK-Science-TimesOnline

Most government IT projects ‘not successful’

May 18, 2007

Only 30% of government technology-based projects and programmes are successful, the official in charge of IT at one of its biggest departments has warned. Joe Harley, chief information officer at the Department for Work and Pensions, said current spending was not sustainable and the government needed to improve the quality of schemes while cutting costs.

The government has been criticised repeatedly for IT projects running over their budgets and timetables. The cost of running the HM Revenue and Customs’ IT system recently soared from £4.5bn to £8bn, while the public accounts committee last month said patients were unlikely to see significant clinical benefits from the £12.4bn NHS computer system by the time all the money has been spent in 2014. There is increasing anxiety over the ability to deliver the ID cards scheme.

He said public sector IT costs £14bn a year, equivalent to 75 hospitals. The government aims to cut costs by a fifth, particularly by targeting spending on desktops – which can cost £700 to £2,400 each.

“Today only 30%, we estimate, of our projects and programmes are successful. Why shouldn’t it be 90% successful?” he said in a speech to this week’s Government UK IT Summit, reported in Computer Weekly. “It’s about improving performance in projects and programmes and our day-to-day services as well as our procurement processes.” Predictable weaknesses such as inadequate requirements were often to blame.

Most government IT projects ‘not successful’ | Special Reports | Guardian Unlimited Politics

Charity warns of overcrowded homes

May 18, 2007

Almost one million children are trapped in overcrowded living conditions in England, a housing charity warned.

Shelter said Government figures showed 955,000 youngsters are living in “cramped, squalid” housing, a rise of 50,000 on three years ago.

The charity is calling on the Government to update current legislation on overcrowding, which does not take into account infants under one year old and in which living rooms and even kitchens can count as bedrooms.

Changing the legal definition of overcrowding dating back to 1935, which also counts children between one and 10 as “half a person”, would begin to tackle the crisis, Shelter said.

Overcrowding can cause depression, ill-health, lack of sleep and social isolation, while the lack of space makes it difficult for children to study, play and develop normally, the charity said. The Housing Act 2004 set out powers to update the statutory definition of overcrowding, but it has still not been changed.

Charity warns of overcrowded homes | UK Latest | Guardian Unlimited

Number of houses being built down

May 18, 2007

The number of homes being built in England fell by 6% in the last financial year – heaping more pressure on the UK’s growing housing need, figures have shown.

Official statistics from the Government showed that in 2006/07 there were 173,369 housing starts – properties in the early stage of construction – compared to 184,906 in the previous year.

The number of homes being completed did, however, register a 3% increase on 2005/06 figures, up to 167,691 in 2006/07.

Despite a rise in finished homes coming onto the market, the drop in the number of properties in construction is likely to put further focus on UK’s growing disparity between housing supply and demand.

Latest official estimates suggest that an average 223,000 new households will be formed every year over the next two decades.

As such, even with completion figures going up, the last financial year saw a shortfall of around 50,000 houses.

The lack of available property also puts further pressure of first-time buyers, with rising costs pricing many would-be buyers out of the market.

Channel 4 – News – Number of houses being built down