Today’s Home Office stories include a reports on the Serious Organised Crime Strategy, hate crime, airport drinking review, and sulphuric laws.
Serious Organised Crime
The Guardian and broadcasters report that estate agents, high street solicitors and accountants who facilitate £100bn of money-laundering in the UK but are failing to report suspicious activity face a crackdown under a new government drive against economic crime.
The article carries comments by the Security Minister, Ben Wallace, who warned public schools, football clubs and luxury car garages to report irregularities, pledging to "go after the status" of the worst culprits by focusing on where they spend their cash.
In an interview with the newspaper, the Security Minister sets out plans for the multi-agency National Economic Crime Centre, launching today, which will prioritise the most serious offences, boosted by a £48m cash injection and a more intelligence-led approach.
The Security Minister has also been interviewed by the Today Programme, Sky and BBC Breakfast. He highlights that “those at the top make vast sums and they need people to launder it. Those that help do that are just as bad. They need the same weight of the law on them.”
The Security and Economic Crime Minister Ben Wallace said:
Many serious and organised criminals think they are above the law. They think they can defy the British state. And they think they are free to act with impunity against our businesses and our way of life. They are wrong.
Our new strategic approach not only improves our government and law enforcement capabilities, but also ensures the private sector, the public and international partners are integrated as part of our response.
And working together, implementing this new strategy, we will show them just how serious we are.
There is widespread coverage in print media including in the Times (splash), Guardian, Independent, Sun, Express, Metro and Mail highlighting the comments from National Police Chiefs' Council chair, Sara Thornton, that police should focus on tackling burglaries and violent crime rather than “worthy issues” such as misogyny and wolf-whistling or historical allegations against dead people.
The pieces note that she calls for a refocus on "core policing" in response to increasing violence and record-low conviction rates for crimes such as burglary.
According to the articles, her comments are regarded as a direct challenge to the Home Office, which, according to the pieces, has asked the Law Commission to consider whether misogyny, misandry and ageism should be included in hate crime legislation.
Most articles carry comments by the Home Secretary that while he would try to get the police more money, there was more they could do to improve that did not need more resources.
A Home Office spokesperson said:
The Government is clear that all hate crimes are completely unacceptable and have no place in British society.
As part of our Hate Crime Action Plan Refresh we have asked the Law Commission to undertake a review of current hate crime legislation and we look forward to seeing the results.
We recognise that demand on the police is changing. We have responded positively by providing a strong and comprehensive settlement that is increasing total investment in the police system by over £460m in 2018-19.
Airport drinking review
All the main papers report that the Home Office is considering whether to limit alcohol sales at airports.
The Sun states that the law change could mean restaurants, pubs and duty-free shops will be “forced to delay” serving alcohol until 10am.
The Guardian reports that the Home Office will release more details on the proposals today.
The Times reports that the Civil Aviation Authority supports the plans for a crackdown, after 417 reports of disruptive passengers last year.
A news story on Gov.uk has more information: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/call-for-evidence-launches-on-airport-licensing-laws--4
Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability Victoria Atkins said:
Air travel often marks the start of an exciting holiday abroad and airports are places to eat, drink and shop as we wait to board our flights.
Most UK air passengers behave responsibly when flying, but any disruptive or drunk behaviour is entirely unacceptable.
This government is committed to ensuring that the travelling environment for airline passengers remains safe and enjoyable.
This is an excellent opportunity for all interested parties to engage directly with us, inform our understanding of the problem and identify suitable solutions.
Sulphuric acid laws
The Guardian reports the Home Office announcement that from 1 November, individuals who are in possession of sulphuric acid without a licence could face a two-year prison sentence.
To apply for a licence you need a legitimate purpose and must disclose any relevant health issues and previous criminal offences, the paper says.
A new story on Gov.uk has more information: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-introduces-tough-new-measure-to-prevent-acid-attacks
Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins said:
Acid attacks are utterly appalling crimes and we are determined to put a stop to them.
Sulphuric acid can be a very dangerous substance. We are taking this threat seriously and are making it harder to possess and purchase corrosive substances.
The changes we have introduced will help to ensure that sulphuric acid is kept away from those who mean harm. I am sure that all retailers will enforce the new restrictions.