Teachers claim frequent physical attacks

June 28, 2007

Two-thirds of teachers in the UK have been physically or verbally assaulted in the past year, with 17% threatened in incidents involving weapons, according to new research.

Almost all teachers (99%) said they had been verbally abused by their pupils in the past year, with 74% claiming it happened at least once every two or three weeks.

Researchers from University of Leicester spin-out company, Perpetuity, undertook a survey of over 300 teachers, supplemented with interviews with other educational experts.

The study showed that pupils verbally or physically assaulted more men (73%) than women (62%) in the last year. In the more extreme cases this took the form of being punched, tripped or kicked.

Of the teachers who had been victimised, 17% had been threatened with a weapon by a pupil on at least one occasion and 3% of them claimed the threat had been followed through with the use of a knife or a gun in school.

Over 20% of teachers had been verbally or physically assaulted by a parent or guardian, with 6% falling victim to an intruder in the school.

The majority of teachers (57%) reported that poor pupil behaviour interfered with their ability to do their jobs.

Teachers claim frequent physical attacks | Schools special reports | EducationGuardian.co.uk

Crime figures ‘under-estimated’

June 26, 2007

Three million more crimes are committed in England and Wales every year than Home Office figures indicate, according to a report by a think tank.

Civitas says the British Crime Survey is failing to accurately record the experiences of repeat victims of crime.

That survey puts a limit of five on the number of times a victim can be targeted by the same offender.

The report estimates the number of crimes to be 14 million but the Home Office said its figures were reliable.

BBC NEWS | UK | Crime figures ‘under-estimated’

Police operational duty shortage

June 26, 2007

One in five police officers is unavailable for operational duties, research claims.

A poll of senior officers who run “basic command units” across England and Wales found that on average 5% of officers are sick, 5% are seconded to headquarters, 5% are on training and 4% of posts are vacant.

In total, 19% of the workforce is unavailable for operational duties at any one time, the poll by think-tank Policy Exchange said. Government targets have served to increase bureaucracy and stifle innovation, the survey added.

Policy Exchange polled all 228 superintendents who run basic command units, with a 68% response rate.

In all, 71% of superintendents believed the Home Office’s reporting requirements had a negative impact on the quality of policing in their area. And 85% of superintendents regarded the number of officers unavailable for operational duties as a problem.

Police operational duty shortage | UK Latest | Guardian Unlimited

Labour’s school reforms ‘haven’t helped the poor’

June 26, 2007

The billions poured into higher education over the last decade have failed to help the poorest children, a report has found.

Youngsters from middle-class and wealthy families still have the best prospect of a good education.

The education charity which commissioned the study said the only way to restore social mobility was a return to academic selection and assisted places.

Labour’s school reforms ‘haven’t helped the poor’ | the Daily Mail

Britain hit by flood chaos

June 26, 2007

More flooding has wrecked havoc on some parts of Britain following severe storms.

Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Shropshire were worst hit, as many people were trapped in their homes and cars because of the extreme weather conditions.

One ambulance crew in Worcestershire was unable to reach a man stranded in his home after finding that a bridge had been completely submerged.

However, the crew were able to reach a second man who had suffered lacerations to his feet while wading through floodwater after a brook burst its banks.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said its crews had reported floodwaters rising to the height of car doors, forcing paramedics to reduce driving speeds for safety reasons.

Meanwhile, a clear-up operation was also under way in parts of Kent after a band of heavy rain prompted more than 300 flooding-related calls.

ITV News – Britain hit by flood chaos

Rail firm’s secret plan for penalty fare cash

June 23, 2007

Britain’s biggest train company has told its guards that they will be disciplined and possibly dismissed if they show discretion to passengers who are unable to buy tickets before boarding because of long queues at stations.

It is the latest example of the lengths to which operators are going in order to pay the billion-pound premiums demanded by the Government for rail franchises.

A confidential memo, obtained by The Times, reveals that South West Trains is introducing a system under which guards are judged according to the amount they collect in penalties. The memo, headed “commercially sensitive, please do not circulate”, instructs guards to treat passengers as fare dodgers even if they come up to the guard on the train and ask to buy a ticket.

The guards must sell the most expensive peak ticket and give no railcard discounts, meaning that passengers will usually pay more than double the normal price. Those travelling between London and Weymouth are being charged £82 on board for a ticket which would have cost £35 at the station.

Rail firm’s secret plan for penalty fare cash-News-UK-TimesOnline

Burglars and drug offenders ‘to be freed’

June 19, 2007

Two thousand criminals are to be released early from jail to ease the prison overcrowding crisis, under plans being prepared by the Justice Secretary.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton, QC, has been forced to draw up proposals to open the gates as the eight-month overcrowding crisis deepens. Under the plan, up to 2,000 prisoners serving less than four years would leave jail early. Those considered for release are likely to be burglars, fraudsters and drug dealers. Offenders convicted of violent or sex crimes would not qualify.

Last night prison staff were bracing themselves for another surge in the numbers held in the 141 jails in England and Wales after police arrests over the weekend. Six sets of court cells were on standby to hold offenders in case there was not enough space in prisons and in emergency cells at police stations. It is estimated to have cost £30 million since last October to hold prisoners in police and court cells.

Burglars and drug offenders ‘to be freed’-News-UK-Crime-TimesOnline

Hospitals losing fight to defeat superbugs

June 19, 2007

One in four NHS trusts is failing the latest government targets on cleanliness and tackling superbug infections, figures published today reveal.

Fewer hospitals and NHS trusts than last year can demonstrate that they are maintaining standards on cleanliness and infection control, despite the introduction of a strict “hygiene code” to eradicate illness caused by MRSA and Clostridium difficile.

Figures released by the Healthcare Commission show that six out of ten trusts in England have reported failing one or more of the twenty-four “core standards” on all aspects of care, on which they are assessed by the NHS watchdog.

Particular problems include failing to decontaminate reusable medical devices, to reduce healthcare-associated infections and to supply the latest recommended treatments for patients. There was also a slight decline in the number of trusts saying they met two standards on treating patients with dignity and respect.

Hospitals losing fight to defeat superbugs-Life & Style-Health-TimesOnline

MPs attack £2bn consultants bill

June 19, 2007

The government spends nearly £2bn a year on external consultants, often without adequately measuring value for money, a committee of MPs has said.

Whitehall spent £1.8bn of the public sector’s £2.8bn bill for 2005-6, a 33% rise in three years, the report said.

Public Accounts Committee chairman Edward Leigh said tighter controls could save £500m a year.

BBC NEWS | Politics | MPs attack £2bn consultants bill

Report highlights child poverty

June 19, 2007

More than 90,000 children in Scotland live in “severe poverty”, according to a study by Save the Children (STC).

The charity has classified that just under 10% of the country’s one million youngsters as living in its worst poverty bracket.

It comprises children aged 15 or under living with two parents who bring home less than £7,000 a year after paying for housing costs.

The statistic is in the charity’s Living Below the Radar report.

STC’s findings, which were published on Tuesday, suggest that one third of children in severe poverty cannot afford play equipment such as a bike or a football, while a quarter miss out on going to toddler or play groups once a week.

The report also found that about 20% of the under-privileged youngsters cannot afford to celebrate occasions like Christmas or birthdays.

BBC NEWS | UK | Scotland | Report highlights child poverty