https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2019/03/06/home-office-in-the-media-blog-wednesday-6-march/

Home Office in the media blog: Wednesday 6 March

Home Office in the media

Today's Home Office in the media blog focuses on coverage of knife crime, a report from the Public Accounts Committee on Windrush and violence against women and girls.

Knife crime

Knife crime features prominently across the papers and broadcast this morning, and is the top story on Politico’s Playbook. Much of the reporting focuses on whether there is or is not a correlation between officer numbers and violent crime. Cressida Dick, the Chief Constable of the Metropolitan police, has said that there is "obviously" a link between fewer officers and teenage knife deaths.

The Telegraph carries an op-ed from the Home Secretary in which he lays out the steps he is taking to tackle knife crime, including giving police new powers through the Offensive Weapons Bill, raising police funding and supporting early intervention projects.

The Guardian reports that Police chiefs are planning to ramp up the pressure at the meeting with the Home Secretary today and ask for more resources. Elsewhere, the paper notes that to focus solely on officer numbers would be to ignore other underlying issues.

Also widely reported are comments from Sadiq Khan, who accuses the Prime Minister of “crying crocodile tears” over knife crime after overseeing years of cuts to the police. While acknowledging there were ‘complex reasons’ for the recent spike, Khan says that the loss of 20,000 officers has exacerbated the problem.

The Express, Times and Star also report on further comments from Cressida Dick, who suggests that middle-class drug users are fuelling the demand for drugs and therefore driving the cycle of violence that results in knife crime fatalities.

The Mail carries a piece from Boris Johnson titled ‘Until we tackle the PC squeamishness over stop and search, bone-headed thugs will carry knives with no fear of the law’. Within, the Minister says that he would not for a moment claim stop and search is the panacea, but it is a vital part of the mix.

The Mail runs a longer piece on the Violence Reduction Unit in Glasgow, suggesting that the success in reducing knife crime in Glasgow should offer lessons for the rest of the country.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:

Young people are being murdered across the country and it can’t go on.

We’re taking action on many fronts and I’ll be meeting police chiefs this week to hear what more can be done.

It is vital that we unite to stop this senseless violence.

 

Windrush report

The Guardian, Times, Telegraph, Sun and Independent report on a parliamentary report that criticises the Home Office for making immigration decisions based on incorrect data and, despite the difficulties faced by the Windrush generation, remaining complacent about systemic and cultural problems.

The Guardian notes that the Home Office’s failure to monitor the impact of policies on vulnerable members of society represents a “dereliction” of duty, according to the “damning” Public Accounts Committee report. The piece also states that the Home Office shows a "lack of care" in ignoring repeated warnings that its policies are causing acute problems for older, long-term UK residents without documents.

Coverage argues that officials continue to display a "lack of urgency" in their response to the problems faced by the Windrush generation, with only one person receiving a compensation payment, the report adds.

Head of the PAC, Meg Hillier MP, is quoted as saying that: "It is deeply regrettable that a scandal of this magnitude, on the back of repeated and unheeded warnings, does not appear to have fully shaken the Home Office out of its complacency about its systemic and cultural problems".

A Home Office spokesperson said:

The Home Secretary and Immigration Minister have been resolute in their determination to right the wrongs experienced by the Windrush generation and have commissioned a Lessons Learned review with independent oversight and scrutiny to establish what went wrong and prevent it happening again.

The Taskforce has helped thousands of people of different nationalities prove their status in the UK. Through the Windrush Scheme 3,400 people have obtained British Citizenship. In addition, the Taskforce has a dedicated Vulnerable Persons Team which has provided support to over 600 people including referrals to the Department for Work and Pensions for benefit claims and advice and support on housing.

Violence against women and girls

The Guardian and Telegraph report that rape prosecutions fall to their lowest rate in more than five years.

The Guardian notes that the new figures show just over a third of the rape cases referred to the CPS between April and September last year resulted in charges being brought. According to the paper, the figures emerge six months after an investigation revealed the CPS quietly urged its prosecutors to take a more risk-averse approach in rape cases. It claims that the “furore over plummeting prosecution rates” prompted the Home Office to launch a comprehensive review of how rape cases are dealt with in the criminal justice system as part of a package of measures to tackle violence against women and girls.

The article carries a Home Office statement saying that the review will specifically be tasked with investigating "why there have been reductions in volumes of police referrals, CPS charges, prosecutions and convictions". It also carries comments by the Independent Group MP, Ann Coffey saying that: "These figures show once again the justice system is not working for rape victims".

In addition, the Telegraph reports that scrapping jury trials for rapes and tougher rules on consent could be considered in a major review announced by the Government into the way sexual violence against women is investigated and prosecuted. It carried a quote from the Safeguarding Minister saying that root-and-branch review will investigate how victims of rape and sexual violence are treated from when they report the allegations to the final verdict in court. The article also carries a comment by Ann Coffey MP saying that: "It is vital the review thinks outside the box and examines whether the jury system is the best way to deliver justice in rape cases because of the dominance of 'rape myths' in society".

The Sun covers the angle around pornography and reports on comments by Ministers saying that online porn could be fuelling violence against women. The article also notes that ministers have announced a review to establish any possible links amid fears over the amount of X-rated material viewed by schoolchildren. It carries a line saying that the Safeguarding Minister said it is one of 54 promises from the Government to help tackle violence against women and girls.

A press release has been published on Gov.uk here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-sets-out-key-measures-to-tackle-violence-against-women-and-girls