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.”

Foreign Prisoners Handed £500 Cash Cards To Go Home

(Telegraph) – FOREIGN MURDERERS, rapists and other criminals are being handed £500 “cash cards” as part of a bribe for them to go home.

More than 2,000 foreign prisoners have been handed the money in the last two years in a desperate bid to clear Britain’s overcrowded jails.

Some prisoners are given the money even though they are also freed from their jail terms up to nine months early.

They can spend it on anything they wish once they have returned home and is part of a package worth up to £5,000 each.

It means the taxpayer has funded more than £1 million alone just to give overseas criminals who have preyed on Britons cash in their hand.

One of those was a Malaysian migrant who killed a 17-month-old baby.

Dominic Grieve, the shadow Justice Secretary, said: “This is simply outrageous. It is bad enough that Gordon Brown lost control of our borders and has let thousands of foreign criminals into the country.

“Now we learn that foreign prisoners are being given cash cards loaded with hundreds of pounds of taxpayers’ money. The lesson is clear: under Labour, crime pays and the taxpayer foots the bill.”

The cash cards are part of the so-called Facilitated Returns Scheme which was launched in October 2006 and encourages overseas offenders to return to their home country once they have passed the point they would be released if British.

It is aimed at preventing lengthy and expensive legal battles against deportation and can see inmates given resettlement packages worth up to £5,000, with most coming in the form of “in kind” support.

One in four of the foreign criminals who was deported last year only went home after being offered a voluntary return package — a 60 per cent increase in such agreements in one year.

In total 2,200 prisoners have taken advantage of the package in the last two years meaning £1.1 million of public money has been spent just on providing cash cards to encourage offenders who have no right to be in Britain to leave, including £1.1 million in cash.

The overall bill, including the full packages, runs to several million pounds.

Under a separate early removal scheme, foreign prisoners can be freed up to 270 days in advance of their release date so long as they are willing to return home and can still take up the returns packages.

The cash element was quietly introduced by the Home Office in October.

The cards can be used as Visa chip and pin meaning the prisoners could feasibly even buy duty free on the plane home.

However, a Home Office spokesman insisted most deportees are returned on charter flights where such services do not exist.

“Every day that we can get these individuals out of the country early saves taxpayers over £100 a night in detention costs. Last year we removed a record 5,400 foreign national prisoners.”

Matthew Elliott, chief executive at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It’s a disgrace that we bribe foreign criminals to go home at all, they should be deported immediately. The fact that we also give them a hefty cash bonus to spend as they wish will rightly anger the law-abiding taxpayers who are footing the bill for this hare-brained scheme.

“The Government’s attitude to foreign criminals has been far too much carrot and not nearly enough stick, and this sort of treatment is financially and morally unjustifiable at a time when ordinary people are struggling to make ends meet.”

There are just under 12,000 foreign prisoners in jails in England and Wales, making up one in seven of the population behind bars.

One of those to have taken up the returns package is Malaysian Agnes Wong, 29, who was jailed for five years in 2008 for the manslaughter of toddler Hugo Wang she was supposed to be child-minding.

She was released in July this year, having served the minimum jail term of two-and-half years, including her time spent on remand, and put on a plane home with a returns package worth £4,500.

Phil Woolas, the Border and Immigration minister, said: “Our Facilitated Returns Scheme saves the taxpayer money because foreign criminals are removed direct from jail or immigration detention, often before their sentence ends.

“This means foreign lawbreakers cannot drag out the removal process for months with frivolous appeals which clog up the legal system.”

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.