Archives for August 2001

SPEEDING GROWTH OF DIGITAL ECONOMY

Headlines, PublicNet: 31 August, 2001

The slow take up of digital signatures and the uncoordinated development of digital smart cards are hampering the growth of the digital economy. The e-Envoy, Andrew Pinder, wants to remove these barriers and has set up policy working groups involving major stakeholders to work out a more co-ordinated and strategic approach.Digital signatures extend the concept of written signatures to the electronic world. They can be used to provide authentication, integrity and confidentiality of electronic transactions and they have an important role to play in facilitating the development of electronic commerce. Despite becoming legally admissible in the UK last year, take up has been very slow.

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MAKING PUNISHMENT FIT THE CRIME

Headlines, PublicNet: 31 August, 2001

Home Secretary David Blunkett has called for a public debate on proposals to reform the sentencing of criminals. The weaknesses of the current system are that it focuses on punishment of the guilty, with little emphasis on preventing reoffending and short custodial sentences are clearly ineffective.The reform proposals would put the reduction of reoffending as an aim equal to punishment. Recompense to the victim or the community would become an important consideration. Community sentences, as an alternative to prison, would play a greater role. Violent and dangerous offenders would no longer secure automatic release once half to two-thirds of the sentence has been served, but judges would order convicted criminals to serve their full sentence in prison with tough follow-on community supervision.

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LOTTERY MONEY GIVES ACCESS TO LIFELONG LEARNING

Headlines, PublicNet: 30 August, 2001

The New Opportunities Fund, which distributes National Lottery money to health, education and environmental projects, is providing some 480 million pounds to support lifelong learning. Schemes for training teachers and school librarians in information and communications technology are receiving 230 million pounds. The digitization programme, which is developing a range of electronic learning materials reflecting the cultural heritage and community wealth and diversity, is being funded with a 50 million pound grant. A further 200 million pounds has been allocated to Community Access to Lifelong Learning.Community Access includes the People’s Network programme, which over time will receive 100 million pounds and will link all public libraries in the UK to the Internet and the National Grid for Learning. The aim is to make technology available to local communities and transform local libraries into high-tech learning centers. The People’s Network is a comprehensive programme of public ICT provision co-ordinated by the Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries. Half of the 200 library authorities have already received funding approval.

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HOLIDAY ACTIVITY SCHEMES CUT YOUTH CRIME

Headlines, PublicNet: 30 August, 2001

Crime rates in deprived areas have been reduced dramatically by activity schemes run by the Youth Justice Board. The schemes give 13-17 year olds on deprived estates constructive activities to keep them out of trouble over the holidays. In the estates that ran schemes in Summer 2000 some 20,000 young people were kept off the streets and there was a 36% reduction in domestic burglary and an 18% reduction in ‘youth crime’ in the area.This Summer 150 schemes are running in some of the most deprived estates in England and Wales. The activities combine educational and life classes, such as drug awareness and sex education, with video making, drama, team sports and DJ classes. Innovative examples this summer include a youth written drama production at the Edinburgh festival from a Gateshead project, a trip by Cardiff youngsters to work at an orphanage in Belarus and fire fighting experience at a project in Birmingham.The schemes have won the support of Police and local residents who acknowledge the benefit of keeping youngsters off the streets. Local communities are significantly involved with around 35,000 volunteer hours recorded over Summer 2000. The cost to the tax-payer is less than 3 pounds for each hour of activity for one young person.

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POLICE PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Abstracts, PublicNet: 30 August, 2001

Paul M. CollierThe management of police performance through cash-limited budgets, performance indicators and crime statistics is the result of a control systems paradigm. This article uses examples of police practice to raise the possibility that this performance culture may be in tension with human rights legislation. The article suggests a shift to a values-based learning paradigm and the need for greater balance between the rationality of a control paradigm and the subjectivity of values.

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CHALLENGING KNOWLEDGE – THE UNIVERSITY IN THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY

Book News, PublicNet: 29 August, 2001

Gerard DelantyDrawing from current debates in social theory about the changing nature of knowledge, this book offers the most comprehensive sociological theory of the university that has yet appeared. The famous philosophical conceptions of the university from the Enlightenment to postmodern thought are discussed along with the major writings in modern social theory on the university, such as those of Weber, Parsons Habermas, Gadmer, Lyotard and Bourdieu. Delanty views the university as a key institution of modernity and as the site where knowledge, culture and society interconnect. Arguing against the notion of the demise of the university, his argument is that in the knowledge society of today a new identity for the university is emerging based on communication and new conceptions of citizenship.

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WARNING – EXAMS CAN DAMAGE MENTAL HEALTH

Headlines, PublicNet: 29 August, 2001

Schools that focus too heavily on getting children through exams risk damaging their emotional health and skewing broader educational objectives in the process. This warning about ‘exam mania’ and its potential to damage children’s mental health comes in a paper published by the Institute for Public Policy Research.The paper, Learning to Trust and Trusting to Learn , points to the apparent rise in eating disorders, burn out, male disaffection and behaviour problems, even in the more academic schools, as signs that there is a growing ‘mental health deficit’ among children. The latest official study acknowledges that one in ten children aged 5-15 will experience a clinically defined mental health problem. Successful students may become success junkies, lose sight of themselves and only feel accepted with straight As, while others who don’t make the grade, or any grade, feel a failure. A secondary teacher is quoted in the paper as saying: ‘We are not educating them. We are not even teaching them. We are drilling them.’

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STRIKE ACTION IN DEFRA GOES AHEAD

Headlines, PublicNet: 29 August, 2001

The Public and Commercial Services Union, with 3,000 members in the new Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs has confirmed that it will take selective strike action this week. Staff in a number of other offices will also work to rule. The new department was formed in June following, the election, by the merger of the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food and elements of the Department for Environment Transport and Regions. The union claims that former MAFF members in DEFRA can earn up to £4,000 a year less than their colleagues from the former DETR.The union’s hand has been strengthened by the high level of support for the one day strike held earlier this month and by more staff signing up for union membership.

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REASSURANCE KEY TO POLICE REFORM

Headlines, PublicNet: 28 August, 2001

Britain’s top police officers have put ‘reassurance’ at the centre of their proposals for reform of the Police Service.It’s a major turnaround for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), who for years have insisted that officers should be at work tackling crime rather than devoting manpower to being a visible deterrent and making people feel safe.

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TRANSFERABLE LESSONS IN E-BUSINESS FOR LOCAL AUTHORITIES

Headlines, PublicNet: 28 August, 2001

Local authorities looking to embrace e-government are urged to take on board a ‘compelling list of learning points’ from a private sector company which has fully embraced the new business model of the Internet economy.This is the central message of ‘Local e-government: Learning From the Best’, from the Society of Information Technology Management (SOCITM).

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