The main media coverage of interest to the Home Office today includes the publication of an independent review of deaths and serious incidents in police custody by Dame Elish Angiolini QC, and a report in the Express that Christian refugees are being discriminated against by the UN and the UK.
Independent review of deaths and serious incidents in police custody
Dame Elish's report and the government's response are covered by the Times, Guardian and Independent.
The papers report the Home Secretary’s comments that there will be a presumption that legal aid should be awarded to families of people who die in police custody or commit suicide in prison. The Times reports that the pledge is an attempt to address the “inequality” faced by families during inquests, when various branches of the state, including the police, have separate legal teams. It also highlights other recommendations put forward by the review, including that police officers involved in custody deaths or serious incidents must not confer with each other after the event and that former police officers should not be appointed as lead investigators at the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) on such cases.
The Guardian describes the review report as “long-delayed” and says it concluded that “far-reaching reforms” to the police, justice system and health service are needed.
The Independent focuses on the review's conclusion that racial stereotyping may be a "significant" factor in deaths that occur in custody but that officers are failing to investigate whether discrimination has taken place.
You can read the full report on gov.uk.
Below is the Home Secretary’s statement. The government's response is available on the Home Office's website.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said:
This report shines a light on this profoundly important issue and the Government thanks Dame Elish Angiolini for her comprehensive review which sets out a clear need for action.
When my predecessor Theresa May met the bereaved families, she was struck by the difficulties they faced as they sought answers about what happened to their loved ones. This simply isn’t right, and is why the Government is taking steps to ensure that families bereaved in this way in future, get the support and answers they need.
The Government is committed to tackling this issue and that when tragically deaths in police custody do occur, we are clear that they must be investigated thoroughly and action taken to support families better in future.
Christian refugees “discriminated against by UN and UK”
The Express reports that Christians seeking shelter in the UK are unable to come to this country, despite being persecuted in Syria and Iraq. They report on figures from the Barnabas Fund – an agency which helps Christians in conflict zones – which show that of the 8,136 people given shelter in the UK in 2015/16, only 70 were Christians. The paper quotes the Fund’s Director as saying that this is “shocking behaviour” by UN and UK officials”.
Our statement on this is below.
A Home Office spokesperson said:
We are clear that our scheme will prioritise the most vulnerable refugees, and that is why under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC) identifies people using established vulnerability criteria.
We are working with the UNHCR and other partners to reach groups that might be reluctant to register for the scheme for fear of discrimination and unaware of the options available to them. These groups include all religious minorities.