Today's Home Office-related coverage includes reporting of the new Drugs Strategy, news of the publication of the animal use in research statistics, and a report from the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration which focuses on foreign students.
Today, Friday 14 July, the Home Office launched its drugs strategy.
The new strategy sets out action to tackle the £10.7bn annual cost of drugs to UK, a new National Recovery Champion to secure better outcomes for those in treatment, and a commitment for the UK to drive global action against drugs. The strategy also sets out measures to protect vulnerable people including the homeless, victims of domestic abuse and those with mental health issues.
It reveals in 2015/16, 2.7 million of 16-59-year-olds in England and Wales took illegal drugs, down 10.5% from a decade ago.
Announcing the report, the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, said:
Since becoming Home Secretary I have seen first-hand how drugs can destroy lives. I am determined to confront the scale of this issue and prevent drug misuse devastating our families and communities.
This government has driven a tough law enforcement response in the UK and at our borders, but this must go hand in hand with prevention and recovery. This new strategy brings together police, health, community and global partners to clamp down on the illicit drugs trade, safeguard the most vulnerable, and help those affected to turn their lives around.
We must follow through with our commitment to work together towards a common goal: a society free from the harms caused by drugs.
The Home Secretary has also written exclusively in the Huffington Post this morning outlining the government's new strategy. You can read her piece here.
Animal use in research statistics
The Times, Telegraph and Independent all report on the statistics published yesterday by the Home Office regarding animal use in science. The papers focus on the rise in dogs and rabbits used for lab tests and comments made by Humane Society International that animal testing is “out of control”, even though there was an overall 5% decrease in procedures.
The Home Office’s statement on this issue is below.
A Home Office spokesperson said:
The UK has one of the most comprehensive animal welfare systems in the world and we are completely committed to the proper regulation of the use of animals in scientific research.
This research helps us to ensure that medicines are safe to use and to find treatments for cancer and other diseases, among a range of other benefits.
Our legislation provides a rigorous regulatory system that ensures animal research and testing is carried out only where no practicable alternative exists and under controls which keep suffering to an absolute minimum.
Home Office ‘losing’ foreign students
The Times, Telegraph and Mail report that an inspection report by David Bolt, Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, implies that Home Office officials have lost track of thousands of foreign students within the UK. The papers say that the immigration watchdog warned last year that there was no process in place to monitor individuals and consequently no one knows how many foreign student over-stayers remain in the country.
Bolt is directly quoted in the coverage as saying that “the Home Office’s approach has lacked urgency, which is a view they dispute. Their case would be helped if they were to set a timescale for the completion of this work”.
Our statement on this is below.
A Home Office spokesperson said:
We have made significant progress against the recommendations in the previous report and this work is continuing.
The number of notifications received from Tier 4 sponsors shows that the education sector is much more compliant, following our reforms that have slashed student fraud and prevented more than 900 institutions from bringing students to the UK.
- We are transforming the way that notifications are received and processed to improve efficiency, transparency, and ease the burden on educational institutions and the Home Office by reducing the number of non-essential notifications.
- We have taken steps to ensure that the Tier 4 curtailment WIP is reduced over the coming months (highlighting the improvements that have been achieved).
- Since the first report was published we have reduced the number of historic cases being reviewed from 71,000 to 16,000 and the next phase of work is underway.
- Those with no right to be in the UK should leave and we will seek to enforce the departure of those who will not leave voluntarily.
- We welcome the ICI’s acknowledgment of the new quality assurance processes, the new Curtailment Not Pursued process, the reduction in ‘No Further Action’ cases, as well as the effective case closure processes that UKVI undertakes.
- We are grateful to the Independent Chief Inspector for highlighting potential areas for further improvement on the work already completed, and UKVI will continue to work on these areas to ensure continuous improvement.