Today’s Home Office stories include coverage of the Government's response to the drone threat, an increase in money laundering and the North East coast being targeted by people traffickers.
Response to drone threat
The papers report airport operators met the Aviation Minister, Liz Sugg, and the Security Minister, Ben Wallace, on Thursday to discuss plans to crack down on drones.
Many were understood to be reluctant to invest in largely unproved, expensive technology being touted by firms, it has been reported.
A No 10 spokesperson comment is carried in some of the coverage, saying: “The Government has been encouraging airports to invest in commercial solutions to protect themselves around drones and many airports have already done so.”
Minister for Security and Economic Crime, Ben Wallace, said:
The Government has responded to the incident in Gatwick by building on the work already underway to counter the threat from drones. This work includes investing in new technologies, reducing response times and working with other partners such as the CAA and airports.
We are quite clear that if people fly drones in a manner that threatens public safety we now have in place the capability to detect and track such intrusions. Those that are caught can expect the full force of the law.
Money laundering increase
The Times and the FT report that the National Crime Agency received a record number of reports flagging potential money laundering, terrorist financing and other suspicious activity last year.
The number of suspicious activity reports rose by about 10 per cent to 463,938 during 2017-18, compared to the previous year, with a 20 per cent rise to 22,196 in cases linked to potential money laundering.
There were 40 arrests in 28 inquiries and the NCA said that interventions stopped £52 million being flushed through the UK. Donald Toon, of the NCA, said that reporting suspicious cash flows “enhances the intelligence picture against serious and organised crime threats”.
A Home Office spokesperson said:
The Security Minister has been clear in his commitment to bringing together the public and private sectors to reform the Suspicious Activity Reporting regime as part of an ambitious programme to tackle economic crime.
We are working collaboratively with partners to design the reform programme and explore funding options for what is a long-term programme of work, but which aims to start delivering change over the coming year.
North East coast 'target of people smugglers'
The Sun reports that migrant traffickers are targeting the North East coast of England to evade patrols in the English Channel.
The report specifically cited a landing by four Iranian nationals in the Lincolnshire coastal town of Mablethorpe in December. It claims the route is being used by people smugglers in Belgium.
The Home Secretary is quoted as telling the Commons: “There was a landing on the coast of Lincolnshire in, I believe, December. This is being looked into closely but we should look more widely than just the South East coast.”
A Home Office spokesperson said:
The Government’s focus remains to protect the UK border and we continue to work proactively with European law enforcement, including partners in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, to target the organised crime networks behind people trafficking and illegal migration.