Today’s Home Office related news includes the arrest of Indian businessman Vijay Mallya, who is facing extradition to India, and comments made by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick around her priorities for the force.
Extradition of Indian businessman
The arrest of Indian businessman Vijay Mallya in London yesterday following an extradition request from India has received widespread coverage this morning, including the front page of the Financial Times.
The newspapers note that Mr Mallya, the billionaire former head of Kingfisher and owner of a Formula One team, is wanted by the Indian authorities over accusations of fraud.
Extradition requests to the UK from outside the EU are governed by Part 2 of the Extradition Act 2003. The next stage in this case will be an extradition hearing held before the District Judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court which has been scheduled for May 17. If the Judge decides that none of the statutory bars to extradition apply (for example, human rights, double jeopardy, health issues) then the request will be sent to the Secretary of State for approval.
Met Commissioner priorities
There is widespread coverage of comments made by the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick. In a series of interviews with news publications she pledged to tackle knife and gun crime in London.
The Times and Telegraph report that Ms Dick said that she considered the stop-and-search tactic to be an “extremely important tactic” in the fight against crime, when used “lawfully and properly” by courteous officers. She also discussed police funding and the budgetary challenges facing the force.
Below is a fact sheet outlining the action the government has taken to combat violent crime and background on police funding.
Fact sheet: Violent crime and police funding
The new Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has stated that she is determined to reduce violent crime, which reflects a continuing Government commitment. Every violent crime is a significant concern and this Government is determined to tackle it.
- The Office for National Statistics is clear the rise in police recorded offences largely reflects improved recording practices and a greater willingness of victims to come forward.
- Police reform is working, with ONS figures for the year ending September 2016 showing crimes traditionally measured by the Crime Survey had fallen by a third since 2010 to a record low.*
- The Crime Survey also shows long term falls in violence, with a 22% fall in violent crimes for the same period, with 370,000 fewer incidents a year.*
Knife and gang crime
- Our Modern Crime Prevention Strategy published in March 2016 set out a range of measures to strengthen our response to violent crime.
- Since then we have delivered on our commitment to ban the sale, manufacture and importation of zombie knives and to extend our work with retailers to prevent the underage sale of knives.
- The Government is encouraging police forces to undertake a series of coordinated national weeks of action to tackle knife crime under Operation Sceptre. In October 2016, 21 police forces across the country took part in the operation which includes targeting habitual knife carriers, weapon sweeps, test purchases of knives from identified retailers, and the use of surrender bins. Over 1,200 weapons were seized, more than 300 arrests were made and over 720 knives were placed in amnesty bins.
- In February, the Government successfully introduced an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill to compel communications providers to disconnect any phone numbers proven as being used in connection with ‘county line’ drug dealing offences.
- Police recorded crime figures for the year ending September 2016 show a 31% fall in firearm offences since 2010.*
- We are ensuring we have the right intelligence, detection and enforcement capabilities and policies, internationally, at the UK border, and within the UK to tackle gun crime.
- Last year, the Government initiated a new Firearms Science and Technology programme, committing £2m over two years to the development of new automatic threat detection technology at the UK Border.
- In response to recommendations made by the Law Commission, we are strengthening firearms controls through the Policing and Crime Act 2017 by closing loopholes in the law which have previously been exploited by criminals. The Act includes a number of firearms provisions and two new offences - intending to unlawfully convert imitation firearms and making a ‘defectively deactivated’ weapon available for sale or as a gift.
Police funding and priorities
- Through the 2015 Spending Review, this Government has protected police funding, and police forces will continue to have the resources they need to cut crime and keep our communities safe.
- Funding for Counter Terrorism Policing remains protected. In 2017-18 we have allocated £633m Resource funding and £42m Capital funding to support counter-terrorism policing.
- Decisions on the operational deployment of resources are matters for Chief Constables, in association with Police and Crime Commissioners, but there is no question that the police still have the resources to do their important work.
- As Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary has made clear, there is considerable scope to improve efficiency, and this Government is giving policing the tools to achieve this by increasing the size of the Police Transformation Fund to £175m.
- The Government is clear that the power of stop and search, when used correctly, is vital in the fight against crime. The Government's approach to reforming the use of stop and search shows that it is most effective when used in a targeted and intelligence-led way - and always on the basis of "reasonable grounds for suspicion”, the legal basis of most stop and search powers.
* New crime statistics covering the year to Dec 2016 will be published on 27 April 2017