English courts trial mental health referrals for vulnerable offenders

Psychologists helping judges opt for community sentences as alternative to prison

Offenders with mental health, alcohol and drug abuse problems are being referred to health services as part of community sentences in an effort to steer them away from jail time.

Under a pilot scheme in five areas in England, psychologists and panels comprising justice and health officials have been providing information to judges or magistrates to determine whether offenders should be required to receive treatment.

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Unions accuse Ryanair of breaching labour law after crews go on strike

Budget airline alleged to be unlawfully trying to deter workers from striking

Ryanair is facing legal claims from unions for allegedly violating labour laws during a row with striking workers, as the airline faces a new round of industrial action that could affect its low-cost business model.

Ryanair pilots in Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden are due to hold 24-hour strikes on Fridayover terms and conditions. The airline has cancelled about 400 flights because of the strikes.

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Postnatal depression: fathers can suffer similar issues to women, say experts

Calls for new fathers as well as mothers to be screened for depression after the birth of a child

The mental health of new fathers is being overlooked despite evidence suggesting men might experience similar rates of depression to mothers after the birth of a child, experts have warned.

It is thought at least 10% of new mothers experience postnatal depression, although charities have said figures could be higher as surveys have shown many women do not seek help or are not asked about their mental health after having a baby.

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Budget crisis takes Northamptonshire council into uncharted territory

Harsh cuts programme will shine unforgiving light on plight of local government

For four years, Northamptonshire’s county council papered over the cracks of its deteriorating finances, blithely convinced the government would ultimately bail it out. Ministers refused to come to the rescue and now, amid political recriminations and public anger, the brutal correction starts.

Related: Northamptonshire council backs 'bare minimum' service plan

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Interest rates will stay low for 20 years, says Bank of England expert

Outgoing MPC member Ian McCafferty predicts rates below 5% and wages up 4%

The era of low interest rates will last for at least another 20 years, despite gently rising official borrowing costs in the coming years, one of the Bank of England’s leading policymakers has forecast.

In a valedictory interview before leaving Threadneedle Street’s monetary policy committee (MPC) at the end of the month, Ian McCafferty said structural changes in the global economy meant UK borrowers and savers should get used to interest rates being “significantly” below the 5% average in the 10 years leading up to the financial crisis.

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Corbyn hopes to avert calls for public vote on Brexit at conference

Labour leader faces damaging defeat over the party’s ‘no second referendum’ policy

Labour has been considering how to head off a concerted attempt by remain-supporting members to stage a vote at its annual conference on calling for a second referendum, to avoid what would be an embarrassing defeat for Jeremy Corbyn on the party’s Brexit policy.

Related: ‘It’s not a done deal’: inside the battle to stop Brexit

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Thousands of cancer patients face NHS treatment delays

Nearly 10% of patients forced to wait more than two weeks for first appointment with specialist

Record numbers of suspected cancer patients are facing delays before starting their treatment amid growing pressure on increasingly overstretched NHS services for the disease.

In the 12 months to June, 130,553 people in England had to wait more than two weeks for their first appointment with a cancer specialist after being urgently referred by a GP.

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Ex-school sports coach jailed for 10 years for sexually abusing pupils

Ajaz Karim is one of five former teachers at Christ’s Hospital school to be convicted

A former sports coach at a leading private school has been jailed for 10 years for sexually abusing six pupils.

Ajaz Karim was found guilty in April of nine charges of indecent assault and one of attempted indecent assault relating to his time at Christ’s Hospital school in Horsham, West Sussex, between 1985 and 1993. His victims were aged between 14 and 18.

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Justice secretary wrong to push Parole Board chair to quit, judge rules

Board found to lack independence after Gauke’s response to Worboys case

A high court judge has ruled it was unacceptable for the justice secretary to pressurise the Parole Board chair Nick Hardwick into resigning, and that the board lacks independence from the government.

Hardwick resigned in March when David Gauke told him that his position was untenable following the Parole Board’s decision to release serial sex offender John Worboys.

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Council tax and the future of local authority funding | Letters

Readers respond to the issue of how to properly and effectively fund local government

As a means of funding local expenditure, there is nothing wrong in principle in the council tax, with the burden distributed on the basis of property values, for, generally, richer people live in better homes with a greater capacity to contribute (Council tax must be reversed, Letters, 6 August; Scrap council tax – wealthy homeowners must pay more, Larry Elliott, 2 August). But the current system is based on a rough valuation carried out in 1990-91, and on rate bands which inadequately reflect the difference between the modest four-bedroom villa and the millionaire’s mansion (or mansion flat). What is badly needed is an accurate revaluation, and a division of the higher tax bands to ensure that the millionaire in his mansion pays more towards the cost of local services.

Taxing development value is a different matter. Ever since the “development charge” in the Town and Country Planning Act 1947, successive Labour governments have sought by legislation to procure for the community some part of the frequently huge increase in value of land created by the community’s decision to grant permission to develop or redevelop that land. Each attempt has been thwarted by the succeeding Tory government, but that massive prize remains to be won. Labour says it will “consider” a land value tax, but the need is self-evident.
Bernard Marder QC
Former president, Lands Tribunal

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Where’s the justice for MoJ cleaners? | Letters

Too many government departments still think it’s acceptable for their outsourced cleaning staff to struggle on poverty pay, says Labour MP Catherine West

Everybody deserves a fair wage for a day’s work, yet too many government departments still think it’s acceptable for their cleaners to struggle on poverty pay (Ministry of Justice cleaners begin three-day strike over pay, 8 August). I’ve been using parliamentary questions for months to name and shame the worst offenders, and try to find out why a cleaner in the MoJ is worth less than a cleaner in the Department for Education.

My research reveals significant inconsistencies in pay and a government culture that wants to brush the issue under the carpet by saying these are “external contracts” and they “don’t hold details of pay rates”.

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Women: beware teas with a gender agenda | Letters

Herbal drinks that claim to be specially blended for women should be treated with some scepticism, writes Dr James Brown

Tea is a fabulous drink. In its various guises it is the second most consumed beverage worldwide after water and contains many biologically active compounds that can improve health. Recently, tea has seen a product revitalisation similar to coffee’s over the past decade, with flavoured teas and herbal teas now sitting next to the traditional red label on our supermarket shelves. Alongside this, a slightly more insidious change has occurred, the emergence of teas targeting women for specific health benefits (The rise of women’s teas, 31 July).

These products are claimed to be specially blended for women, with ingredients including cranberry, rose, shatavari and vanilla. So far, so tasty. However, without the input of food scientists, or even basic clinical trials, it is impossible to make any robust claims for beneficial effects for womankind, as one will have no idea if these ingredients make the perilous journey though the stomach and into the bloodstream, and if they do, are they found in sufficient quantities to do anything good for the body?

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Influential women missing from the list | Brief letters

What, no Sappho? | Poetry in newspapers | Rain risk for mobility scooters | The Healeys on holiday | Cheap beer in Yorkshire

Three-quarters of the 20 “most influential women in history” (Report, 9 August) are British; all but three lived post-1800; and all but three are (probably) “white”. So the 19th-century philanthrophist Angela Burdett-Coutts gets in, but Sappho, Cleopatra, Hildegard of Bingen, Joan of Arc, Catherine de Medici, Catherine the Great, the Dowager Empress Cixi, Rosa Luxemburg, Eva Perón and Indira Gandhi are left out. Maybe we shouldn’t take such lists too seriously.
Alan Knight
Emeritus professor of history, Oxford University

• “Newspapers of the day would generally have a daily poetry column” (Mill workers’ poems about 1860s cotton famine rediscovered, 9 August). And you can barely review a single volume of poetry a month.
Fr Julian Dunn
Great Haseley, Oxfordshire

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