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Home Office in the media

Home Office in the media blog: Wednesday 1 May

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Home Office in the media

Today’s Home Office stories cover forensic science, 101 calls and the DBS.

Forensic science report

There is coverage in the Guardian, Telegraph, Metro, Times, Mail, Express and on the Today Programme this morning on the Lords’ Committee of Science and Technology’s report on forensic science.

The Metro, Mail, Express and Telegraph look at the report’s findings that serious crimes are going unsolved and innocent people are being wrongly convicted due to deficiencies in the forensic science industry in England and Wales.

Lords on the committee warned that “justice will be in jeopardy” unless the quality and delivery of the service is overhauled, the Telegraph reports. The Times and Guardian both focus on the report’s warning that forensic science companies are on the brink of collapse, risking miscarriages of justice.

The Times notes that the Home Office last week published a plan to improve police forensics after a review found the existing model needed to be strengthened by addressing regulatory, governance and capability issues.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

Forensic science is an invaluable tool for bringing criminals to justice and it is vital it has the confidence of the public.

That is why we commissioned a joint review of police forensics with the National Police Chiefs’ Council and developed a 13-point taking action to strengthen the market and address quality concerns.

We will consider the findings of the report carefully and respond in due course.

VAT on 101 calls

The Telegraph reports that the Government has collected £1million in VAT from 101 calls. The article states that the Treasury takes 20 per cent from each of the 32 million calls made annually.

Victim’s Commissioner Baroness Newlove, who yesterday published her anti-social behaviour report, is quoted as saying that the news “adds insult to injury, as no one is a victim by choice”. In her report she called the decision to charge 15p for 101 calls “fundamentally wrong”.

The Telegraph adds that the Centre for Social Justice is pushing for telecoms company to absorb the £5million administration bill for 101 calls, as they are obliged to do for 999 calls.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

We will be considering the recommendations in this report carefully, and will respond formally in due course.

Most forces already have online reporting tools for non-urgent incidents, and we are supporting police through the Police Transformation Fund to deliver a single online home for policing, which will provide a 'digital front desk' for the public to contact the police.

Police forces don’t make any money from calls to 101 as the charge goes directly to telecom service providers to cover the cost of handling calls and routing them to their destination.

DBS modernisation scheme

The Times and Telegraph report that a plan to modernise the criminal records checks system is late and almost £230million over budget.

A report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) found that the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is still using an “ageing platform” system from 2002 after a ‘falling out’ with the contractor brought in to modernise the system, the Telegraph reports.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

The DBS’s safeguarding work is of utmost importance in protecting the public and the Home Office is committed to ensuring the regime operates effectively

We recognise that there have been delays in some aspects of the delivery and implementation of the modernisation programme. We are continuing to work closely with the DBS throughout this period of transformation.

We will fully consider the Public Accounts Committee’s recommendations and respond formally shortly.

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