One In Ten Drug Offenders Is A Child

(Telegraph) – ONE IN TEN drug offenders are children, double the number when Labour first came to power, figures show.

More than 100 youngsters aged under 18 are convicted of drug offences every week, raising concerns of a new generation of criminals.

It comes as separate figures show the equivalent of 35 children a day need hospital treatment for substance abuse, including illegal drugs.

A total of 6,370 teenagers and other children were guilty of drug offences in 2008 compared with 2,749 in 1998.

It is the equivalent of around a tenth of the total 52,664 drug convictions for that year, figures obtained by the Conservatives show.

Almost 13,000 children aged under 16 were admitted to hospital last year for substance abuse, which includes illegal drugs as well as other substances such as glue.

That was a 25 per cent rise since 1998/99 and includes 1,172 aged under ten.

Chris Grayling, the shadow Home Secretary, said: “I just can’t understand how Gordon Brown can be so complacent about the social problems in Britain today.

“What clearer sign can there be of a broken society than thousands of children receiving hospital treatment for substance abuse. More and more children are also facing prosecution for drugs offences.”

A Home Office study yesterday found one in six hardened drug-abusing offenders go on to commit at least five more crimes a year.

One offender was responsible for 42 crimes, the statistics on drug misusing offenders showed.

Overall, 20,934 offenders known to take Class A drugs committed 54,462 offences in 2008/09.

Separate sentencing statistics from the Ministry of Justice found one in seven people caught with a knife or offensive weapons are let off with a caution.

In 2009, some 12,874 offenders were cautioned or sentenced for possession of a bladed article, but only 3,016 were sent to prison.

Some 1,873 were let off with a caution.

However, the figures overall showed a downward trend in the proportion being handed cautions.

Dominic Grieve, the shadow Justice Secretary, said: “Knife offenders should not escape justice with a mere slap on the wrist. Under a Conservative government, if you are caught with a knife you should expect to go to prison.”

Woolas Admits Even His Children Have Suffered From Immigration

(Telegraph) – PHIL WOOLAS, the immigration minister, has admitted even his own children and family have “suffered” because of the impacts of his Government’s immigration policies.

Mr Woolas, who has two boys of school age, accepted that the sudden influx of large numbers of people had had an effect on communities after being confronted by an unemployed man on BBC’s Newsnight.

He went on to admit: “My own family, my children, have suffered from that and we recognise that point …”

Asked what he meant, he added only: “Well, if you get, as the gentleman says, if you get a big influx of people coming into an area, Slough Council, Peterborough Council, have raised this point, that is the price you pay.”

He refused to expand on his comments yesterday and it remains unclear whether he means his children have suffered as a result of pressure on schools or communities in general.

He is the latest Labour minister to accept immigration has impacted on towns and cities but

In December, Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, said immigration had “cost” parts of Britain, impacting on jobs, wages and even family ties.

That came a week after Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, said the Government had been inept over immigration, which had impacted on communities.

Chris Grayling, the shadow Home Secretary, said: “There is no question that immigration has put huge pressure on our public services. How can a Minister defend a policy that he admits his own family has suffered from?”

Crime Programme Funding Cut

(Telegraph) – THE GOVERNMENT is cutting the budget of a key crime reduction programme, according to a leaked letter.

Capital grants handed to councils in England under the Safer and Stronger Communities fund will be cut by 50 per cent next year.

The letter from a senior Home Office official was sent to council chief executives today and released by the Conservatives.

Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, said it showed ministers were slashing budgets on crime fighting while boasting about spending.

”This shows just how hypocritical the Government is being. On the one hand they are boasting about how they are spending money to protect public services whilst on the quiet slashing budgets in key areas like fighting crime.

”From Gordon Brown downwards, this is a Government that’s trying deceive the British public about what it’s doing.”

The fund is used by councils to tackle crime, anti-social behaviour and the impact of drugs and is targeted at some of the poorest communities in the country. Next year it will total nearly £10 million.

Separate figures published today showed sharp falls in the number Sharp falls of burglaries and robberies.

Quarterly figures from police in England and Wales showed the country appeared to be defying predictions of a recession-linked crime wave.

Domestic break-ins fell 8% between July and September last year, according to police statistics. Robberies were down 9%.

Police figures indicated the total number of crimes recorded by the police was down 8% and violent crimes were down 4%.

Nevertheless, in the leaked letter, the Home Office’s director of drugs, alcohol and partnerships accepts the budget cuts are “likely to have an impact on local delivery”.

The current spending round within the Home Office was “particularly difficult”, the letter states, and cuts have been made by ministers because of a “significant budget shortfall”.

The letter states: “I am writing to you… to advise that, following what has been a particularly difficult 2010/11 capital allocation exercise within the Home Office, ministers have decided to reduce these grants by 50%.

“Against a backdrop of considerable pressure on all public expenditure, the Home Office has a significant shortfall in its capital budget against requirements.

“As you would expect, this shortfall is, in turn, reflected in a reduced allocation to the Crime and Policing Group and has necessitated some very difficult decisions as to how we minimise the impact on areas that we are funding.”

Binge Drinking Violence Creating ‘No Go Areas’

(Independent) – BOOZE-FUELLED VIOLENCE is creating “no-go areas” across England and Wales, a Government-funded poll revealed today.

One person in every four said they avoided parts of their local area because of crime and disorder linked to alcohol abuse.

The results of the study were released as the Government confirmed measures aimed at tackling alcohol misuse will come into force before the General Election.

Speed drinking games, volume drinks promotions and pouring alcohol directly into drinkers’ mouths will be banned from April, Home Secretary Alan Johnson announced.

The Tories also laid out their plans to tackle problem drinking with a pledge to “take back” town centres and roll back so-called “24-hour drinking”.

Alcopops and super-strength beer and cider would face higher levies, they said, and bars and clubs wanting late night licences would be hit with a tax to pay for policing.

The poll revealed widespread support for a ban on drinks promotions in supermarkets and off licences in problem areas.

Half of those questioned said bulk buy and other offers should be prohibited where disorder is rife.

Ministers have dropped plans to allow councils to ban happy hours in pubs and bulk offers from alcohol retailers in problem zones.

Mr Grayling said: “It’s time we took back control of our town and city centres on a Friday and Saturday night, and turned them back into places where people can have a good night out without the fear of being caught up in a culture of binge drinking and anti-social behaviour,” he said.

“We need to scrap the Government’s late-night licensing regime, give local people back powers over the number of licensed premises in their areas, and introduce charges for late-night licences to pay for better policing.

“We can’t go on with the binge-drinking culture that has built up under Labour.”

Mr Johnson said the ban on games, and measures to force pubs to provide tap water for free would come into force in April and help deal with “irresponsible” retailers.

From October, bars will be forced to offer smaller drink sizes, he said.

The poll, carried out by Ipsos-Mori, revealed widespread ignorance of rules that allow bars to offer spirits in either 25ml or 35ml measures.

More than half of those questioned (52%) said they thought a single measure was the same everywhere.

Mr Johnson said: “Alcohol-related crime costs the UK billions of pounds every year and while the vast majority of retailers are responsible, a minority continue to run irresponsible promotions which fuel the excessive drinking that leads to alcohol-related crime and disorder.

“These practices have a real impact on society, not to mention the lives of those who just want to enjoy a good night out.

“The Government and the industry have a duty to act, this mandatory code will allow us to take action against an issue which affects us all.”

The British Beer and Pub Association said the measures were unbalanced because they did not target drinks sold through supermarkets.

Concerns have been raised about drinkers “pre-loading” with booze before going on a night out.

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said 70% of alcohol is sold through supermarkets.

She said: “We have consistently supported legislation to crack down on irresponsible promotions in pubs and supermarkets.

“However, with nearly 70% of all alcohol now sold through supermarkets, the pub-centric measures announced today are lopsided and unbalanced.

“Pubs are struggling and the country is in recession. This is not the time for the Home Office to be burying business in yet more unnecessary red tape.”

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: “Booze Britain is ruining lives and costing the country billions, but Labour has not only failed to tackle alcohol misuse, it has allowed an epidemic of drink-fuelled crime and illness to take hold.

“Now the Government is ignoring its own expensive advice and experts, who say the best way to reduce alcohol misuse is to stop booze being sold at pocket money prices.”

Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians and chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said the Government’s move was “a welcome direction of travel” but argued that minimum unit prices for alcohol would be more effective in cutting problem drinking.

The new rules amounted to an admission that voluntary codes for the drinks industry had failed, he told the BBC.

Setting a minimum price for booze would be more effective, he said.

“Minimum unit pricing is very attractive because it doesn’t affect the price of a pint in a pub or a glass of wine in a restaurant but it does target the heavy drinkers and the under-age drinkers who target the cheapest drinks.”

* Ipsos Mori questioned 1,710 people in England and Wales in July last year.

House-holder Self Defence Up For Review

(politics.co.uk) – MINISTERS COULD REVIEW the law on self-defence when householders are threatened by violence from burglars, following Conservative calls.

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling has called for judges to shift the legal balance between the burglar and the householder towards the latter.

Home secretary Alan Johnson responded yesterday by acknowledging a review was possible.

“I’m sure in government given the amount of public concern about it I’m sure we would [review the law],” he said on the Andrew Marr programme.

Mr Grayling had suggested that people faced with violence from burglars should be able to take the law into their own hands.

He told this morning’s Today programme that if the Tories came to power ministers would force courts to “apply a higher threshold” as to whether disproportionate force was applied or not, in a case where a householder had used violence to defend themselves.

The Conservatives want people to be given the right to use levels of force that are not deemed to be “grossly disproportionate”.

“The comment by the judge was ‘we can’t have people taking the law into your own hands’. Very often people will want to take the law into their own hands,” Mr Grayling told the Today programme.

“What we should do is set a higher bar for the courts to say we, the society, want you to provide a higher level of protection to the householder.”

Mr Grayling’s comments come a week after a man whose family had been tied up by a burglar was jailed.

Munir Hussain had used a cricket bat to beat one of the burglars. The case is going to appeal.

Around 20 cases where an intruder has been the victim of violence by the householder have taken place in the last decade, Mr Grayling claimed.

He said that the Tories’ priority in this situation would be to ensure that people would not stop to consider their “legal position” before defending themselves.

“If you discover somebody standing over your bed in the small hours of the morning… you should be able to use violence to defend yourself,” Mr Grayling added.

He declined to comment on the Hussain case.

The government insists it has already acted to strike the right balance.

Mr Johnson said yesterday that it was “impossible not to feel uncomfortable”.

“There was nothing in this case that constricted or restricted the judge to make the decision he did,” he pressed.

David Cameron And Shadow Cabinet Referred To Sleaze Watchdog Over Expenses

(Telegraph) – DAVID CAMERON AND 10 OTHER MEMBERS OF THE SHADOW CABINET have been referred to the Westminster sleaze watchdog after using Parliamentary expenses to make payments to their constituency associations.

A Labour MP has written to John Lyon, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, asking him to investigate thousands of pounds in fees charged by local parties and claimed back on the MPs’ expenses.

Receipts filed with allowances claimed by a number of shadow cabinet ministers list the payments as having been made to ‘constituency worker,’ ‘constituency secretary,’ ‘secretarial and office services’ and ‘surgery.’

The receipts, usually for around £3,000 a year, appear in the MPs’ Incidental Expenses Provision allowances dating back over the last five years.

John Mann, the MP for Bassetlaw, has lodged a formal complaint with the Parliamentary watchdog saying that the payments raised concerns over whether national insurance was paid and the stated work actually carried out.

MPs are barred from using their expenses to fund their party political campaign work.

In total, 11 Tory front benchers, including George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, and Eric Pickles, the Conservative Party Chairman, have been reported to the commissioner.

The payments ranged from £9 to £32 an hour paid by Theresa May, the shadow work and pensions secretary, for a staff member to attend a surgery in her Maidenhead constituency, during which, she said, they worked: ‘arranging appointments, receiving and making calls.’

In his letter to Mr Lyons, Mr Mann said that he understood that a number of Conservative MPs had the permission of the now discredited Commons fees office to make the payments.

He added: ‘I believe there are a number of issues that need to be addressed in the light of this practice.

‘Paying staff out of the IEP means that no national insurance number is required and no national insurance is paid; and without formal staffing arrangements, such as a contract, there is no way of determining what work has been carried out.

‘Moreover, whilst the annual amount paid to local parties is around £3,000 for staffing, the hourly rate for staff varies from as little as £9 per hour to as much as £32.58 an hour, as does the number of hours worked.

‘Finally, there is no means of determining whether staff have indeed been paid, as payments from the IEP are made directly to local Conservative Associations.

‘I am, therefore, concerned that what appears to be the payment for reasonable expenses incurred in the cause of carrying out Parliamentary duties maybe seen as a way of directing public money to a local political party.’

A Conservative spokesman said that all of the payments were in order, adding that MPs of all parties, including many Labour MPs, used their Parliamentary expenses to pay for staff and other support in their constituencies.

He added: ‘These payments reflect genuine costs incurred by MPs in performing their parliamentary duties in their constituencies. The arrangements were, of course, fully disclosed to the fees office, and have been approved by them.’

Other members of the shadow cabinet reported to Mr Lyons include Dominic Grieve, the shadow justice secretary, Michael Gove, the shadow children’s secretary, Sir George Young, the shadow leader of the House, Andrew Mitchell, the shadow international development secretary, and Theresa Villiers, the shadow transport secretary.

Number Of New Immigrants Has Soared By 50% Under Labour

(Daily Mail) – THE RATE AT WHICH FOREIGNERS ARE SWELLING THE POPULATION has increased by 50% since a secret Government immigration policy document was written.

Critics said it was clear evidence that ministers had implemented the controversial Cabinet Office report.

This allegedly claimed mass immigration would make Britain more multicultural and allow Labour to portray the Tories as racists. Speaking in the Commons yesterday, Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said it would be ‘utterly disgraceful’ for ministers to base immigration policy on party politics.

He asked Immigration Minister Phil Woolas: ‘Can I invite you to put the record straight – what was the motivation behind the very rapid increase in immigration under this Government?’.

Incredibly, Mr Woolas did not appear to know which report Mr Grayling was referring to — despite the widespread coverage it received over the weekend.

Yesterday, the Daily Mail told how ministers were facing calls for an inquiry into claims by former Labour adviser Andrew Neather that the Government opened up Britain’s borders in part to try to humiliate Right-wing opponents of immigration.

His allegations referred to a 2001 report from the Performance and Innovation Unit, a think-tank based in the Cabinet Office, which made the case for mass immigration.

Earlier drafts are said to have included the statement of ‘a driving political purpose: that mass immigration was the way that the Government was going to make the UK truly multicultural.’

Now an analysis of officials statistics has found that, from the date the report was published, the number of foreign nationals being allowed into the UK surged.

Whitehall statistics show that in the year of the document’s publication, 370,000 non-British nationals arrived. That rose to 416,000 the following year and, by 2006, had reached 510,000.

In 2007, it fell back slightly to 502,000 – but this was still an increase of 30% on 2001.

For net foreign immigration (the number of non-British citizens arriving, versus the number leaving) the figures are more dramatic.

In 2001, it stood at 221,000; but by 2007 it had reached 333,000 — up by 50%. This is the size of the increase in the foreign-born population of the UK.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the Migrationwatch think-tank, said: ‘Now it has been revealed that mass immigration under this government was a deliberate policy concealed from the public, and especially from the white working class whose lives and neighbourhoods have been most affected.

Now immigration will add another seven million to our population over the next 25 years unless really serious measures are taken to cut immigration by at least 75%.’

Opponents claim Labour’s bungling of immigration policy has contributed to the growth of the BNP.

Mr Neather, who worked for Tony Blair and Jack Straw, said Labour’s relaxation of immigration controls was a attempt to engineer a ‘truly multicultural’ country and plug gaps in the jobs market. He claimed the 2001 policy paper inspired the ‘major shift’ in immigration policy.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw, who was then Home Secretary, has dismissed Mr Neather’s claims as ‘complete rubbish’.