https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2018/07/30/home-office-in-the-media-30-july-2018/

Home Office in the media: 30 July 2018

Home Office in the media

Today’s Home Office in the media stories include a doubling in funding for knife crime prevention, a new report from Policy Exchange, claims that gangs are exploiting borders, a report on absconding foreign criminals and Syrian refugees in the UK.

Knife crime prevention fund doubled to £22million

There is widespread coverage of the Home Secretary’s announcement that he is doubling the Early Intervention Youth Fund from £11million to £22million.

The fund supports charities across the UK which work with young people at risk of becoming involved in violent crime.

The Times notes that the announcement is a bid to tackle rising gun and knife crime, which the Office for National Statistics said had risen by 11 per cent and 22 per cent in the year until March.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:

“Intervening early in the lives of vulnerable young people can help focus their talents on positive activities and steer them away from the dangers of serious violence.

“This is why we are doubling our Early Intervention Youth Fund to £22million. The fund will support groups at the heart of our communities who educate and interact with youths – and provide them with an alternative to crime.

“We all need to work together to tackle this worrying issue and our Serious Violence Strategy is helping this joined-up approach.”

Call for ID cards for all British citizens

There is widespread coverage of the thinktank Policy Exchange’s report on the state of Britain’s borders and immigration system.

The coverage is centred around a call by the centre-right organisation for the Government to reconsider identification cards for all British citizens.

The scheme to give all EU citizens ‘settled status’ in the UK through online identification should be expanded, the report suggests.

A further proposal from the report is for an amnesty for illegal immigrants who have been in the UK for 10 years or more. It also says that people who agree to leave voluntarily from the UK after they are found to have no right to be here should be awarded more than the current £2,000.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

 “We are pursuing an ambitious programme of reform at the border as well as investing in new capability to improve passenger experience. Examples of this include e-Passport gates and motion detection technology which benefit passengers and improve security. Border Force invested £63.5m in new technology and capability in 2017-18 and £90.4m in the two previous years combined.

“Decisions on the future immigration system will be based on evidence. This is why we have asked the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to advise on the economic and social impacts of the UK’s exit from the EU and also on how the UK’s immigration system should be aligned with a modern industrial strategy.”

Gangs smuggling at border

The Daily Express carries an exclusive report that cites experts who claim that weak border security is fueling a gun, knife and drug crisis.

The report references the recently released Office for National Statistics crime statistics which show that recorded crime in England and Wales has hit the highest levels in ten years.

The article cites former Special Branch officer Chris Hobbs as saying that Border Force staff are “too thinly spread” and warning that a lack of “sufficient deterrent” at UK borders could lead to an increase in guns being smuggled.

A Home Office spokesperson said: 

“We are committed to making sure Border Force has the resources to keep the UK safe.  

“We recently announced a new nationwide recruitment campaign of up to 1,000 officers, and £63.5m of investment in new technology and capability in 2017-18. 

“Border Force works with the National Crime Agency, police, law enforcement agencies and international partners to secure our borders from threats such as Class A drugs and organised criminal groups.”

Foreign criminals 'on the run' in the UK

The Mirror reports that hundreds of foreign criminals who disappeared while awaiting deportation are still “on the run” in the UK after eight years.

The paper cites Home Office figures that show that only 369 of 760 foreign offenders have been traced after they absconded following release from prison in 2010.

This was the first year in which records were kept on numbers of foreign criminals released without being considered for deportation.

The article notes that the department’s record on this subject has improved since 2010 with the latest figures showing that 494 foreign offenders vanished while facing removal from the UK between 2014 and march 2016; with more than 200 still “on the run”.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

"Protecting the public from harm remains the priority for this government and we will not give up looking for these absconders.

"We work with the police, government agencies and commercial companies to track down, arrest and return absconders to custody where possible. In addition measures introduced under the Immigration Act 2016 mean that in future all non-detained foreign nationals subject to deportation proceedings or a deportation order will be electronically monitored.

"The remaining 41 absconders that have not been found remain subject to the above ongoing work carried out by our absconder tracing team.”

Syrian refugees brought to Britain

The Mail carries a page lead on figures which show that none of the more than 1,100 Syrian refugees who were brought to the UK in the first three months of this year were Christian.

The paper says that despite the ‘suffering of Christians’ during the country’s seven-year civil war, all the arrivals were of Muslim heritage. 

The figures were obtained by the Barnabas Fund charity under the Freedom of Information Act.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

"The Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme prioritises the most vulnerable refugees who have fled the Syrian conflict, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity.

"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.”