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Home Office in the media

Home Office in the media blog: Tuesday 4 June

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Home Office in the media

Today's leading stories include the sentencing of an imam in France for his role in facilitating migrants attempting to cross the Channel and also concerns around the use of predictive algorithms in policing.

Migrant crossings

The Times and BBC Online report that an imam has been accused of selling dinghies to people-smugglers to carry migrants across the Channel. The story has also been reported on the Today programme.

The BBC copy reports that the imam has been sentenced to two years in jail and that his Senegalese co-conspirator has received nine months. The men admitted providing six or seven dinghies.

The Times reports that French police have mounted a three-month operation to trace suppliers of small crafts as authorities struggle to cope with the increasing numbers of smuggling operations.

Home Secretary, Sajid Javid said:

The number of migrants crossing the channel overnight is deeply concerning and I’m receiving regular updates on the situation. Those who choose to make this dangerous journey across one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world are putting their lives in grave danger - and I will continue to do all I can to stop them.

Since I declared a major incident in December, two cutters have returned to UK waters from overseas, I’ve agreed a joint action plan with my French counterpart 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 30 people who arrived illegally in the UK in small boats have been returned to Europe. We will continue to seek to return anyone who has entered the UK illegally.

Policing algorithms

The Financial Times and BBC Radio 4 Today Programme report on lawyers' concerns surrounding the growing use of algorithms by police forces and probation services. A study conducted by the Law Society states that there is a “worrying” lack of regulation in areas such as predictive policing.

The Telegraph reports that the public expect police to be using facial recognition technology after seeing it in spry thrillers. However, Cressida Dick says that “we’re miles away from that”. Ms Dick urged the Government to take action or risk being “really left behind” but said that the technology needs to be “acceptable to the public”.

A Government spokesperson said:

Technology can help keep us all safe and improve public services but it should always be used in a proportionate and lawful manner.

We already apply detailed quality assurance to the development of any algorithm in the criminal justice system to ensure it is ethically sound, and are working with The Alan Turing Institute to make sure use of more complex AI algorithms continues to be ethical, safe and fair.

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