Home Office stories of interest today include coverage of comments on counter-terrorism by the Director General of MI5, Andrew Parker, the spike in hate crime offences, and the Home Secretary’s appearance at the Home Affairs Select Committee.
Director General of MI5 speech
Yesterday, the Director General of MI5, Andrew Parker, gave a rare public speech in which he expressed his thoughts on the current threat posed by terrorism, and what the Security Service is doing to counter it. There is widespread print coverage - with packages also running on broadcast last night - most of which carry his comments that the threat posed by terrorism was “multidimensional” and “operating at a scale and pace we’ve not seen before”.
All the main newspapers also pick up on Mr Parker's comments about the need for technology companies to work together with law enforcement agencies and the government to tackle the online threat, quoting him as saying that "addressing these challenges is about partnerships and ethical responsibility".
Hate crime statistics
All the main newspapers report that the number of hate crimes rose by nearly a third in the year to March and that separate provisional figures showed a record 6,000 incidents in July this year. The Telegraph, Independent, Metro and Guardian note that the Home Office believes the increase is partly due to improvements in police recording of crime. The Guardian reports that the Home Office is providing £2.4 million to protect places of worship, £1 million for vulnerable faith institutions and £900,000 to support community projects.
The Mail says only one in six incidents result in police charges, raising “questions about whether tens of thousands of reports are little more than grievances that would never meet the threshold of criminality”.
Our statement on the statistics is below.
Home Secretary, Amber Rudd said:
There is absolutely no place for hate crime in our society and this Government is taking action to tackle it.
I am heartened that that more victims are more confident to come forward and report incidents of hate crime, and that police identification and recording of all crime is improving.
But no-one in Britain should have to suffer violent prejudice, and indications that there was a genuine rise in the number of offences immediately following each of this year’s terror attacks is undoubtedly concerning.
We are working to crack down on those who commit these horrendous attacks, help communities counter these twisted views, and are supporting vulnerable groups to feel safe and protected. We have committed £2.4m to protect places of worship, a further £1m for vulnerable faith institutions and £900,000 to support community projects. We are also engaging with groups to ensure we understand the public’s experience of hate crime, and make it easier for victims to come forward.
Home Secretary appearance at Home Affairs Select Committee
There is widespread coverage of the appearance of the Home Secretary and Permanent Secretary before the Home Affairs Select Committee yesterday. Given the wide range of topics covered in the evidence session - including the impact and preparation of leaving the EU on Border Force, plans to offer EU citizens living in the UK ‘settled status’, online fraud and illegal immigration - the papers take a variety of angles.
There is widespread pick-up of the Home Secretary's comment that it would be "unthinkable" to leave the EU without a deal on security given "it was so much in their interests as well as in ours". The Times and Independent quote a No 10 spokesperson as saying the Prime Minister "absolutely agrees" with the Home Secretary's view that a deal is in the best interests of both parties.
A number of the papers, including the Guardian, Mail and Financial Times, report that the registration of three million EU citizens living in the UK will begin by the end of next year with the “default position” that the Home Office will accept applications. The papers note that the Home Secretary said 1,200 extra staff would be recruited by next April to deal with the registration process.
They also note that the Permanent Secretary told the committee that the Home Office will be recruiting 300 more Border Force officers.
The Telegraph carries a separate article on efforts to tackle online fraud, reporting that the Home Secretary told the Committee she was "excited" by plans that could see online shoppers being asked to confirm their purchases by text message in a two-step verification scheme. It goes on to say that plans are in an early stage, but the Home Secretary said it could reduce the number of crimes by one million, which could be a "real win in terms of protecting people".