https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2018/11/20/4569/

Home Office in the media blog: Tuesday 20 November

Home Office in the media

Today’s Home Office stories include reports on the Police Federation chairman’s comments on a video of officers being assaulted in the street and the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 review.

Police leader calls for more support after attack video

There is widespread coverage of comments made by Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh after footage of a violent attack on two police officers in Merton was posted online.

He condemned a "walk on by" culture in which people film violent incidents instead of trying to stop them.

Mr Marsh also said that where it may not be possible to detain an individual, it may be appropriate for them to be "let go", as if there is no back up, it is not worth officers putting themselves at risk of being assaulted when doing their job.

Mr Marsh's comments were also carried on BBC London and ITV’s Good Morning Britain and BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd said:

This footage is appalling and sickening. Being attacked should never be part of the job for our courageous emergency services workers, who put themselves in harm’s way to protect us.

That’s why we supported the Assaults on Emergency Workers Act which came into effect last week. The Act means that judges must consider tougher sentences for assaults on emergency workers, including police officers and staff.

Review of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016

The Telegraph and the Today programme cover the findings of the Home Office review of Psychoactive Substances Act.

Coverage focusses on the finding that the sale of so-called legal highs has gone underground after the ban on the substances came into force.

The pieces also note that the measure has resulted in a "considerable reduction" in the use of the drugs.

The Today programme spoke to Professor Alex Stevens, who sits on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, outlined his scepticism regarding the Act. He suggested that the sale of psychoactive substances has moved to the streets from shops.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

Psychoactive substances can devastate lives which is why we changed the law in 2016 to prevent the sale of these dangerous drugs.

Since the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 came into force, over 300 retailers across the United Kingdom have either closed down or are no longer selling psychoactive substances.

In 2016, there were 28 convictions in England and Wales and seven people jailed under the new powers. This rose to 152 convictions in 2017 with 62 people immediately sent to custody.