Friday, January 9, 2009

Coming up on Panorama

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This week saw the return of a row between the government and UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) over knife crime figures.

You may recall, the spat started in December when the Home Office released figures claiming that there had been a significant drop in knife crime - a claim quickly savaged by UKSA chairman Sir Michael Scholar.

Sir Michael complained that the figures had been released prematurely and were incomplete, adding that he had asked the government not to release "unchecked" and "selective" figures.

This mauling did result in an apology from Home Secretary Jacqui Smith a few days later, but if the government thought that would be the end of the matter, it was wrong.

The UKSA fired off a fresh salvo this week, broadening its criticism of the Home Office's press release which had claimed a sharp fall in the number of teenagers caught carrying knives and a 27% drop in hospital admissions with stab wounds.

The UKSA went on to say that the release had flouted their guidelines - designed to ensure that statistics can be trusted and are not subject to manipulation - in no less than 10 separate ways.


This Monday, Panorama will be adding its weight to the debate on knife crime.

For our programme Jailed for a Knife, reporter Raphael Rowe was given rare access to young offenders convicted of wounding and even killing with a knife.

Interviewed in their cells, the programme provides a thoughtful and sobering insight into the lives and minds of those at the centre of a highly-charged national debate.

Jailed for a knife is on BBC One on Monday 12 January at 8.30pm.


One of the other standout issues of 2008 - the death from abuse of Baby P - was also back in the news this week when we learned that Sharon Shoesmith, the ex-head of children's services at the council at the centre of the Baby P case is appealing against her sacking.

Ms Shoesmith was dismissed from Haringey Council last month after a damning initial report into her department's role in Baby P's death.

The 17-month-old, who was on the council's "at-risk" register, died in 2007 after a series of major injuries.

Following the report, Ms Shoesmith was dismissed with immediate effect and the council said she would not be receiving any compensation or pay in lieu of notice.

There can be few people in Britain not now familiar with the shocking story of what happened to Baby P, but if you missed our programme revealing the failures by Haringey social services remember you can still watch it on our website right now.


That's all for this week, but remember that if there is anything you want to talk to us about at any time you can always e-mail us at

The Panorama Team
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