Today's Home Office in the media blog focuses on coverage of knife crime, terror-related arrest statistics, the Institute for Government report and violence against women.
Knife crime continues to received widespread coverage, appearing on a number of front pages. The coverage also continues to skew towards the political debate.
The Express splashes on and the Sun, Evening Standard and FT prominently feature comments from Merseyside Police chief constable Andy Cooke, who says judges should punish thugs with "harsh" sentences.
The Telegraph and Express report that Sadiq Khan is under fire after claiming he could not do any more to stop knife crime as another teenager is killed in the capital. He is accused of passing the buck after blaming Conservative education policies for helping to fuel knife crime. Iain Duncan Smith says Khan is "playing party political games" when he is the man responsible for policing in London. Khan blames the Tories's expansion of academies and free schools, saying they have left councils with little oversight of pupils being excluded in increasing numbers and drawn into violence.
In response to Khan’s criticisms, Damian Hinds insists there is no "causal link" between exclusions and knife crime. In a column for The Times, Hinds backs the right of headteachers to remove pupils permanently.
The Guardian, Mail, Sun, Telegraph and Times report the ‘furious’ reaction from rank-and-file police officers to suggestions by Philip Hammond that forces should move resources to prioritise tackling knife crime. Speaking to BBC Breakfast yesterday, Hammond said that the Government has already agreed to almost £1bn in extra police resources in the next financial year, and urges forces to use the existing money more efficiently. Police Federation chair John Apter says: "It amazes me that the Chancellor is still prioritising balancing his books over tackling this national emergency". The Mirror describes the comments as ‘deeply insulting’.
Home Secretary, Sajid Javid said:
I am deeply concerned by the rise in serious violence brought into focus by the murders in London and Manchester. We are working hard with police and other partners and agree that it requires action on many fronts.
I’m listening to the police officers and the purpose of this meeting was to discuss what more can be done.
But it’s not just about law enforcement. It’s a huge part, but it’s also about early intervention and how we stop people turning to crime, that’s about working across Government and public bodies.
Terror arrest stats
The Metro and Evening Standard report on the terror-related arrest statistics released yesterday, focusing on the fact that more than two in five people arrested were white.
The 273 arrests in 2018 constitute a 41% year-on-year decrease and of these, 43% were white – the third highest number since 2001. The Standard notes that the decrease is partly explained by a large number of arrests made after the London and Manchester attacks last year, according to officials.
The Metro notes that the majority of arrests are listed under the ‘international’ category, meaning they are linked to terrorist groups outside the UK. Of those still in custody, 79% hold extremist Islamist views, and 13% have far-right ideologies.
Both the Metro and Standard report that police and MI5 are currently running a record 700-plus terrorism investigations. Dean Haydon, the senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism policing said: “This activity is matched by an increased effort from security services.”
Security Minister Ben Wallace said:
The tireless efforts of our police and intelligence services everyday seek to keep us safe from the terrorist threat. They ensure these powers are targeted and used where necessary and proportionate. Arrests and prosecutions are only part of the response to the terrorist threat used by law enforcement.
Government is always ready to keep our laws under review and invest where necessary to keep the citizens of our country safe.
Immigration after Brexit
City A.M. reports that the think tank Institute for Government (IFG) said the Home Office may “not be the right department” to handle immigration after Brexit after a “catalogue of failures, including Windrush and the adoption of the ‘hostile environment’”.
According to the article, IFG recommended the Government agree clear objectives for a new immigration system after Brexit and provide Parliament with a yearly update on its progress.
A Home Office spokesperson said:
This report calls on the Government to publish a clear vision for immigration, which the Government has done through the White Paper on the UK’s future skills-based immigration system, published last year.
Our proposals would mean we have a single, skills-based immigration system that will allow us to attract the talented workers so that the UK prospers, but also delivers on the referendum result, ends free movement and improves border security.
We are engaging extensively throughout 2019 across the UK, including with business, and we have already asked the Law Commission to review our Immigration Rules to see how they can be simplified and made more accessible.
We are resolute in our 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.
Violence against women
An Editorial in the Guardian argues that making domestic abuse a political priority requires resources as well as laws. The article states that the creation of the new offence of coercive or controlling domestic abuse, combined with provisions in the current Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill including the creation of a specialist commissioner, ought to mean the situation for survivors is improving. However, the article adds that while funding for the women's sector is so tight, it is impossible to claim that the UK is making progress.
The leader states that police need more training if they are to tackle coercive abuse effectively and that before it has even been passed, the new Bill risks being undermined by local cuts. Nor will it adequately protect migrant women who are vulnerable as a result of "hostile environment" measures.
The Mirror carries an in brief report noting that Fern Champion, who was raped in 2016, has called on the Government to provide specialist counselling to those who need it, amid concerns that many women are unable to access services due to demand.
Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability and Minister for Women Victoria Atkins said:
Violence against women and girls strike at the heart of our families, friendships and communities and it is our responsibility to bring light, justice and support to victims and survivors.
It is right that in the week of International Women’s Day, we keep looking at how we can build on the excellent work done so far. Following campaigns such as #MeToo and #TimesUp that have highlighted the sheer scale of incidents, we, as a society, must do all we can to tackle these horrendous crimes and attitudes.