In the media today there is coverage of the Home Office announcement on police pursuits and the anniversary of the Manchester bombing.
There is widespread coverage of the Home Office announcement that a consultation will be launched on proposed changes to the law around police pursuits. This includes making clear in legislation that a suspect is responsible for their own decision to drive dangerously and amending the law for careless and dangerous driving offences to recognise a police officer’s level of training and skill. The changes are aimed at tackling moped crime and giving police more confidence.
The papers and broadcasters all lead on the Home Office giving police more freedom to chase moped thieves. The Telegraph reports that the current laws had led to “confusion” over when police should chase criminals and said the Home Office is aiming to “smash the myth” that police cannot pursue criminals not wearing helmets. The Times says that the announcement was timed to coincide with the Police Federation Conference.
BBC Breakfast reported that 10,000 police pursuits take place every year, with Richard Smeed of Kent Road Policing saying that officers will always carry out their duties within the scope of the law.
Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, Nick Hurd, said:
Police officers must have the confidence to pursue suspects where it is safe to do so and criminals should be in no doubt that they will not get away with a crime by simply driving recklessly.
Our proposed changes will make sure that skilled police drivers who follow their rigorous training are protected, while ensuring the minority of officers who do cross the line are robustly held to account.
Anniversary of the Manchester Arena attack
Today marks the one year anniversary of the Manchester Arena terror attack. There is widespread coverage in print and broadcast media, with in-depth reporting on several different angles.
The Today programme gave an update on the investigation, noting that Greater Manchester Police said 100 officers are still working on the investigation and 23 people have been arrested. There is also coverage of efforts to extradite Hashem Abedi, the brother of bomber Salman Abedi, from Libya. Chief Constable Ian Hopkins was interviewed on Today and said that negotiations were “tricky” and led by the Government. The extradition is covered in the Mail and the Times. The Mail says that, according to a senior source in Libya’s Attorney General’s Office, Hashem Abedi could request not to be extradited if he has kept his Libyan citizenship and would be tried in Libya. The paper carries comments from the Security Minister, who said the Government is determined to do everything to bring Abedi to the UK to face justice, a message echoed in the paper by Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Conservative MPs Jack Lopresti and Bob Seely. The Times reports that extradition has moved closer after the Libyan Government disbanded the Special Deterrence Force militia, which has been holding Abedi. It quotes Noman Benotman, president of counter-extremism think tank Quilliam, who said the chances of extradition had improved now he was under the Attorney General’s control.
There is also coverage of the fallout of the Kerslake Review into the attack and whether it could have been prevented, with Lord Kerslake and the former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation David Anderson QC interviewed on Today. When asked about why Abedi was not stopped when he was under investigation, Mr Anderson said 20,000 people were on the security services’ radar and that since the attack they have improved the system in predicting people of interest. He added that MI5 were releasing more intelligence so neighbourhood policing officers know who is of national security interest. Lord Kerslake said that the response by politicians was not convincing, noting that the Mayor had written to the Prime Minister with 22 recommendations that could be implemented nationally and he has not been given a response. Mayor Burnham added that they are addressing issues exposed during the attack and were taking steps to tackling extremism.
The Financial Times reports on the reaction to and from the Muslim community in Manchester. The paper notes that Islamophobic attacks in Greater Manchester rose six-fold to 224 in the month after the bombing. The paper spoke to Muslim leaders in the city, who said they were playing their part in referring people with extremist views while Chief Constable Ian Hopkins and Andy Burnham said they had worked with the Muslim community to drive away hate crime. The Times reports that firefighters are still suffering stress following the decision not to let them attend for two hours on the night. The paper says between May 21 and 31 last year 35 fire service staff took sick leave because of mental health problems and 77 because of stress. Similarly, the Independent reports that police were also suffering from mental health issues. The paper quotes a Police Federation spokesperson, who said steps towards helping officer welfare had moved in the right direction following a national well being meeting attended by the Policing Minister.
Much of the rest of the reporting focuses on case studies looking at how victims of the attack have coped, the response from the city and details on commemoration events taking place. The Prime Minister has an op-ed in the Mirror praising the city’s resilience.
Security Minister Ben Wallace said
We have been clear from the outset that we are determined to do everything in our power to ensure that those suspected of being responsible for the Manchester attack are brought to justice in the UK.
That is why the extradition of Hashem Abedi, who has been named as a suspect by Greater Manchester Police, was requested and we continue to work closely with the CPS, police and Libyan authorities to return him to the UK.
This was a callous and evil act and the victims and their families deserve and demand justice. They must remain our priority and we will therefore not be commenting further so as not to jeopardise the investigation.