The process of identifying and helping children with behavioural and social difficulties is too complex, the schools watchdog has told the Department for Education and Skills. The Guardian reports (p10) that while even those with severe needs can make huge progress in both specialist and mainstream schools, support is often too little and too late.
FORCED POLICE MERGERS 'ABANDONED'
Plans to force police in England and Wales to merge into large super-forces have been shelved in favour of voluntary mergers and ad hoc collaborations, the Guardian reports (p14).
Tony Blair told the Commons consolidation of forces was still on the agenda, but police minister Tony McNulty said restructuring could take years, rather than being completed by the original 2008 deadline.
ACPO president Ken Jones said in the light of the collapse of merger efforts between Lancashire and Cumbria, other more complex amalgamations might not be possible.
A summary on the 10 Downing Street website of a press briefing by the prime minister's official spokesman yesterday follows:
Asked if the government was no longer going ahead with police mergers, the PMOS said that it was a somewhat misleading summary of what Tony McNulty had said. As John Reid had said in June, the fact was that we were not going to force mergers, but what we did need to do was address the tension between local accountability and police effectiveness in light of the HIMC report. Consultations in that process would continue over the summer. Nothing had changed. Asked if there was a deadline for the consultations, and also, why had the president of ACPO said the mergers were off, the PMOS replied that the president of ACPO could speak for himself. There had been a continuing hostility to the proposals from certain quarters. In terms of the timetable, the home secretary had said that that process would continue over the summer; we should therefore wait and see what happened.
PUBLIC SERVICE REAPS HIGHER SALARIES
Public sector graduates are earning more than their private sector counterparts for the first time, according to the Daily Mail (p2). University leavers in the civil service or NHS have starting salaries averaging£21,445 - that is£1,400 more than in the commercial sector.
A researcher from Hay Group, which conducted the research, said: 'As we see a trend towards increasing professionalisation in the public sector, management training schemes in public bodies such as the NHS and civil service are paying graduates very competitive wages.'
HEALTH WARNING ON FAST FOOD JOINTS
Calls for a 'scores on doors' system alerting customers to takeaway restaurants' hygiene standards were strengthened by a disturbing public health study, the Daily Mail says (p18).
The Food Standards Agency research showed one in five of all takeaways posed a significant risk to health. Some local authorities are already conducting trials of systems where hygiene inspection results are posted online.
JOB AD 'EXCLUDES WHITE APPLICANTS'
A history graduate was barred from a council job as museum assistant in Brighton's Royal Pavilion because he was white, the Daily Mail reports (p32). The job advertisement specified candidates of African, Afro-Caribbean, Asian or Chinese descent - a legal stipulation under the 1976 Race Relations Act that allows the council to boost its ethnic minority representations in trainee posts.
WRANGLE OVER LEGALITY OF HINDU FUNERAL PYRE
Hindu mourners burned a body on an open-air funeral pyre at a secret Northumberland location after Newcastle City Council rules human pyres were illegal, the Times reports (p13).
Northumbria Police at first gave its blessing but later said offences may have been committed, and the Department for Constitutional Affairs said the Cremation Act 1930 'prohibits the cremation of human remains anywhere except in a crematorium'. Organisers claimed they had found a loophole in the law.
4X4 'CHELSEA TRACTORS' FACE£25 C-CHARGE
The Mayor of London plans to grant greener vehicles a congestion charge discount while levying a higher charge on less fuel-efficient cars, the Times reports (p16).
A top rate of£25 would apply to any vehicle emitting more than 225g of CO2 per kilometre, which includes Range Rovers, Toyota Land Cruisers and some Renault Espaces.
Transport for London has been asked to draw up the details, with discounts introduced first and higher charges by 2010. The Alliance Against Urban 4x4s said 40% of SUVs would be deterred from entering central London, and London Assembly Conservatives claimed small businesses could be damaged.