Today’s Home Office media stories include the announcement of the new Windrush scheme and reports from the Public Accounts Committee and the Science and Technology Committee.
Windrush scheme announcement
Yesterday the Home Office announced legislation has been introduced to bring into force a package of measures under a new Windrush scheme. This will allow those in the Windrush generation to make citizenship applications free of charge. There were also updates to the number of Windrush individuals identified by the taskforce.
The Financial Times, Independent and Express lead on the angle that 5,000 Windrush cases have been identified by the Home Office. All of the coverage gives an overview of the package of measures announced, including that fees for citizenship applications will be waived for Commonwealth citizens who settled in the UK before 1973 and children who joined their parents before they were 18.
The Independent and Financial Times note that there was criticism of the fact that there will be no right of appeal. The papers quotes Home Affairs Select Committee chair Yvette Cooper who said that it was “extremely concerning” given the Home Office’s track record of making mistakes. The Financial Times also carries a statement from Labour MP David Lammy, who criticised the delay in the compensation scheme while the group Welfare for Immigrants said no right to appeal meant people would have “no confidence” in the scheme.
The Guardian leads on criticism of the British High Commission in Jamaica, who Windrush cases have claimed had been “heartless”.
Home Secretary, Sajid Javid said:
I am clear that we need to make the process for people to confirm their right to be in the UK or put their British citizenship on a legal footing as easy as possible. That is why I have launched a dedicated scheme which brings together our rights, obligations and offers to these people into one place.
I want to swiftly put right the wrongs that have been done to this generation and am committed to doing whatever it takes to make this happen.
Public Accounts Committee report
There is coverage in the Independent and Sun of the Public Accounts Committee report following their inquiry into the Disclosure and Barring Service’s modernisation programme. Both papers note that the report said that the programme is likely to overspend by £229 million, branding the project a “masterclass in incompetence”. The Independent says it has been marred by poor planning, delays and spiraling costs. It adds that in 2012 Tata Consultancy Services were commissioned to design, build and run a new system to modernise the DBS, but it was delayed from its expected completion date of June 2014 and costs have risen from £656 million to £885 million. The paper adds that there were also ”serious concerns” about the implementation of the Emergency Services Network.
A Home Office spokesperson said:
We recognise that there have been delays in some aspects of the delivery and implementation of the Disclosure and Barring Service’s modernisation programme. However the DBS has launched the first phase of its new IT system and will continue to work towards providing their customers with a faster and more efficient service.
The DBS’s safeguarding work is of utmost importance in protecting the public and we continue to work closely with them throughout this period of transformation.
We will fully consider the Public Accounts Committee’s recommendations and respond formally in due course.
Science and Technology report
The Mail carries an article on a report by the Science and Technology Committee on forensics and biometrics. The paper leads on the report saying people who are found innocent should have their mugshots removed from police databases automatically, rather than having to apply. The paper carries quotes from committee chairman Norman Lamb, who said the current practice was “a significant infringement on people’s liberty”. The Home Office statement is carried.
A Home Office spokesperson said:
We expect the new police IT systems that we are putting in place will be able to automatically delete custody images by linking them to conviction status, as is the case with fingerprints and DNA.
We understand the need to strike a balance between protecting an individual's privacy and giving the police the tools they need to keep us safe. The storing of custody images helps police solve crime but it must be done in a way that is legal, ethical and transparent.