https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2019/01/07/home-office-in-the-media-blog-monday-7-january/

Home Office in the media blog: Monday 7 January

Today’s Home Office stories include the migrant boats crossing the Channel, the potential for an online safety commissioner and the Jack Shepherd case.

Home Office in the media

Migrant boats in the Channel

The Independent reports that an anti-racism group held a vigil yesterday in Ramsgate to welcome migrants crossing the Channel and to make clear their concern for those making the journey. The Sun also carries a brief note on this.

Kent Anti-Racism Network organised the gathering, at which attendees held up banners and chanted messages of solidarity. A handful of counter-protestors were also present.

In related coverage the Independent reports that Spain has rescued 549 migrants who were attempting to cross the Mediterranean in a single weekend. Despite this spike, the 2018 total of unauthorised border crossings in the EU was a 25% drop from 2017 and 92% below the peak recorded during the crisis of 2015.

The Metro carries the same 549 number as a small fact-box, which further includes a UN estimate of the number of migrants that died crossing the Mediterranean last year –  2,262.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:

“My focus continues to be on protecting the UK border and preventing loss of life in the Channel. For these reasons, the Government has decided to deploy a navy vessel, HMS Mersey, to support our existing efforts. This will be an interim measure while the two Border Force cutters I have redeployed from abroad make their way back to UK waters.

“It is vital that we are working on all fronts to tackle this ongoing situation and I am grateful to Border Force and other agencies for the tireless work they have done in response to this activity.”

 

Online safety commission

The Telegraph reports on comments made by Baroness Williams that the Government is considering creating an online safety commissioner with the powers to fine and investigate social media giants.

The piece states that Australia has had an ‘eSafety Commissioner’ since 2015, with powers to fine companies for every day that cyber bullying posts remain online. Asked whether the Government was considering the same model, Baroness Williams said: “One of the things that we always do is look to see what other countries are doing and certainly we are looking into it. Nothing is off the table.”

The comments came as the Minister also said that social media companies need to do more to stop people with facial disfigurement and visible conditions being abused online.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:

“Criminals are using the internet to further their exploitation and abuse of children, while terrorists are abusing these platforms to recruit people and incite atrocities. We need to protect our communities from these heinous crimes and vile propaganda and that is why this Government has been taking the lead on this issue.

“But more needs to be done and this is why we will continue to work with the companies and the public to do everything we can to stop the misuse of these platforms. Only by working together can we defeat those who seek to do us harm.”

 

MPs call to end ‘abuse’ of legal aid – Jack Shepherd case

There is further coverage in the Mail and Telegraph of the Home Secretary’s intervention in the case of Jack Shepherd who is on the run after a woman was killed after his speedboat flipped.

Over the weekend the Home Secretary said the case was ‘heartbreaking’ and announced that he would meet Charlotte Brown’s parents later this month.

MPs have now demanded urgent action to end the ‘abuse’ of taxpayers’ money being spent in legal aid for Mr Shepherd.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:

“This is a heartbreaking case. Charlotte's parents have suffered enough and Mr Shepherd should give himself up right away.

“The Metropolitan Police are rightly doing all they can to track down Mr Shepherd and bring him back to face justice.

“If anyone has been assisting him through a misplaced sense of loyalty, please do the right thing and report his whereabouts to the police.

“I want to thank the Daily Mail - through its international reach - for helping in the hunt to find Mr Shepherd.

“I will be meeting Charlotte's parents in the coming weeks and will do all I can to support them.