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Home Office in the media

Home Office in the media blog: Wednesday 23 January

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Today's Home Office stories include the Home Secretary meeting with the family of Charlotte Brown, a new Counter-Terrorism public awareness campaign, the Home Affairs Select Committee on migrant crossings, and an Internet Watch Foundation report on online child abuse.

Home Office in the media

Home Secretary meets with Charlotte Brown's family

There is widespread coverage of the case of the fugitive Jack Shepherd after the Home Secretary met the family of Charlotte Brown who was killed when his speedboat overturned on the Thames.

The papers report that Miss Brown’s family met the Home Secretary yesterday to discuss the case and the Home Secretary’s statement is carried prominently throughout, leading the reporting in the Telegraph, Mail and Express. Her father Graham told the Telegraph that it was ‘heartening’ that Sajid Javid had given his assurance that he would ‘personally oversee’ the case now. The paper also reports that Shepherd will face ‘quick extradition’ back to the UK once he is found.

The Times reports that Shepherd is believed to have fled to Georgia days after being arrested for attacking a man in a pub and the Mail reports that police failed to act on tips they were given six months ago that Shepherd had fled to Georgia.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:

Charlotte’s family are understandably heartbroken and distraught following this awful tragedy. I have taken a personal interest in this case and am determined to ensure Jack Shepherd faces justice.

I told the family we will strain every sinew and explore every option to bring them the justice they deserve as soon as possible.

The Metropolitan Police and National Crime Agency are doing all they can to track down Mr Shepherd. If anyone is aware of his whereabouts they should report it immediately.

What is clear is that Charlotte’s family have suffered enough. That is why I am repeating my plea for Mr Shepherd to give himself up.

Police encourage public vigilance against terrorism

There is widespread coverage of the announcement of a nationwide publicity campaign to encourage public vigilance and support against terrorism, which will air at 120 cinemas nationwide from Friday.

The Telegraph reports that Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu has revealed that police are engaged in more terror investigations than at any time for at least a decade. The paper says that the number of plots foiled since March last year rose to 18, comprised of 14 by suspected Islamist terrorists and four by far-right extremists. The paper quotes Mr Basu as saying that the biggest threat was from Daesh fighter returning from abroad, and individual extremists being radicalised online.

The Independent reports that the number of public tip-offs of terror activity to police have dropped by more than half in a year. The paper says that Mr Basu has warned that “public complacency” would be the worst-case scenario for security services, adding that Brexit has “undoubtedly” taken up the public attention and terrorism was no longer at the front of people’s minds. A leader in the Express welcomes the campaign and encourages the public to report suspicious activity.

The Mail reports that Mr Basu warned of the risk posed by leaving the EU without a deal, and the impact it would have on security services. The paper quotes him as saying “To leave without…being able to exchange data or biometrics on people who might be criminals or terrorist would be a very bad place for this country, and for Europe.”

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:

The threat from terrorism is one of the starkest we face and we have all seen the horrific consequences of a terrorist incident.

With the support of the public, our police and intelligence agencies work tirelessly to keep our communities safe. We all have a role to play in confronting those who seek to do us harm.

Life really doesn’t have a rewind button so, if something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and report any suspicious activity or behaviour as soon as you can.

HASC on migrant crossings

There is coverage in the Telegraph and Metro of the Home Affairs Select Committee which yesterday heard from refugee charities on migrants crossing the Channel.

The Telegraph focuses on comments by Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, who told MPs that there were 3,000 migrants in northern France and Belgium who were ‘desperate’ and would ‘do anything’ to get to the UK. She told the HASC that there were at least 30 children who remained in Calais despite being eligible to enter the UK.

Maddy Allen, from Help Refugees, claims in the Metro that Border Force patrols and the deployment of HMS Mersey were ‘not acting as a deterrent’. She also claimed that the migrant boat crisis had been ‘blown out of proportion’, the Metro reported.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

The UK has a proud history of hosting, supporting and protecting those in need, including some of the most vulnerable children affected by the migration crisis. We have provided protection to nearly 33,000 children since the start of 2010.

Since we launched the National Transfer Scheme in July 2016, it has transferred out more than 700 Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) to authorities with capacity to care for them, almost half of which involved UASC who were initially in the care of Kent County Council.

In July 2016 we increased funding provided to local authorities by 20% for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children under 16, and by 28% for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children aged 16 or 17. We also increased the funding we provide to former Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children who go on to attract leaving care support by 33%.

105,000 child abuse websites removed in past year

The Telegraph, Mail and Star report that a record 105,000 websites showing children being sexually abused and tortured have been found and removed in the past year by UK investigators.

The Telegraph reports that the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) revealed that 1,300 sites, involved infants under two years old, and babies being abused. The paper added that nearly all the sites were based overseas.

The Daily Mail says that the IWF report warned that predatory paedophiles are increasingly manipulating middle class children, usually teenage girls, into posting highly sexualised selfies.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:

The horrifying amount of online child sexual abuse material removed by the IWF shows the true scale of the vile threat we are facing. This is why I have made tackling it one of my personal missions.

I welcome this impressive work and have been encouraged by the progress being made by the tech companies in the fight against online predators. But I want the web giants to do more to make their platforms safe.

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