https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2019/04/23/home-office-in-the-media-blog-tuesday-23-april/

Home Office in the media blog: Tuesday 23 April

Today's Home Office in the media stories include Channel migrant crossings, support and compensation for victims of terror attacks, and a fall in the number of fresh asylum applications.

Home Office in the media

Channel migrant crossings

There is widespread coverage of the rescue of 36 migrants who attempted to cross the Channel in small boats yesterday.

The Guardian reports that three boats, carrying 36 men, women and children, were intercepted in separate Border Force operations yesterday. The individuals presented themselves as Iranian and Iraqi nationals and were transferred to immigration officials after medical assessments, the paper reports.

The Telegraph reports that authorities in France, who intercepted 21 people attempting to cross the Channel earlier this month, said the weather and a lull in maritime traffic may have influenced the smuggler’s decision to send boats out.

The Telegraph reports that in the past month, nearly a dozen boats reached UK waters, carrying a total of 92 people.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

Anyone crossing the Channel in a small boat is taking a huge risk with their life and the lives of their children.

Since the Home Secretary declared a major incident in December, two cutters have returned to UK waters from overseas operations, we have agreed a joint action plan with France and increased activity out of the Joint Coordination and Information Centre in Calais.

It is an established principle that those in need of protection should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach and since January more than 20 people who arrived illegally in the UK in small boats have been returned to Europe.

Victims of terror

The Telegraph reports that terror attack victims who have been left waiting months for mental health support and years for compensation have accused the Government of leaving them “to rot”.

Victims of the Westminster, London Bridge and Manchester Arena attacks are calling for an independent review after revealing how they were left “falling through the gaps” following their release from hospital, despite a specialist Home Office unit being set up for survivors of the 2017 atrocities.

Survivors Against Terror (SAT), which counts Brendan Cox among its campaigners calling for victims and bereaved families to get more help, has begun crowdfunding for the inquiry into how victims of terror are treated in the UK after survivors revealed a lack of support.

The Home Office Victims of Terror Unit is noted, but charity Victim Support warns that it needs “a huge number of improvements” and survivors said it had not helped them.

Security Minister Ben Wallace said:

This Government has worked to ensure that victims of terrorism receive coordinated, effective and comprehensive support.

The Victims of Terror Unit works across Government, public bodies, local authorities and the third sector to ensure that support provided to those victims is effective, comprehensive and co-ordinated.

The support available includes a 24/7 support line to ensure victims have access to the emotional and practical support they need.

After every incident the Home Office works across all of Government to ensure victims receive support form every sector and at both local and national level. In the long term we continue to liaise with victim liaison officers in forces and through the Victims of terrorism unit.

Fall in fresh asylum applications

The Independent reports that the number of people making fresh asylum applications in the UK has fallen, after the Home Office insisted they travel hundreds of miles to do so.

The paper reports a policy change in 2015, allowing the process to submit further evidence to only be carried out in Liverpool, has meant that asylum seekers have been forced to make journeys of up to 500 miles each way, sometimes costing more than £100.

The Independent reports that government figures show since the policy was changed, the number of people making fresh claims, where asylum seekers can submit new evidence if their application is refused and their appeal rights are exhausted, has more than halved. The newspaper says the number haS plummeted from 162 in 2014 to 70 in 2017. The paper notes that the number of people applying for asylum has risen by 6 per cent in the same period.

The paper says that Charities based in the south of England and in Scotland said they had spent thousands of pounds to help asylum seekers get to Liverpool.

A Home Office Spokesperson said:

The United Kingdom has a long and proud history of offering sanctuary to those who genuinely need it and each claim is carefully considered on its individual merits.

But when someone is found not to need our protection, we expect them to leave the country voluntarily.

The requirement to lodge Further Submissions in support of a fresh asylum claim in person has been in place since 2009 and applies only to failed asylum seekers whose claims have already been refused. The process enables the Home Office to speed up the decision-making process, meaning that protection can be granted more quickly to those who need it

In exceptional circumstances, for example due to a disability or severe illness, Further Submissions from failed asylum seekers may be accepted by post. Additionally, if a claimant with dependant children cannot make suitable childcare arrangements, a postal submission may be accepted.