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Home Office in the media

Home Office in the media blog: Tuesday 11 June

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Today's Home Office media stories include the latest update on Windrush to the Home Affairs Select Committee, a High Court legal challenge on child informants, and a Government review on the use of DNA in immigration applications.

Home Office in the media

Windrush apology

The Times, Guardian, Independent and Sun report on the Home Secretary’s monthly update to the Home Affairs Select Committee.

The Times, Independent and Sun lead on Sajid Javid’s personal apology to a further 49 victims, taking the total to 67, where he said he was “committed to righting the wrongs of successive governments.”

The Independent quotes Zoe Gardner from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, saying it was “alarming” that so many people making out-of-country applications were being refused.

The Guardian led on the fact that only 13 of 91 Windrush victims have been people who have applied for emergency financial support were granted it by the end of April, reporting that some were facing eviction and visits from bailiffs. The piece also reports that Home Office officials are yet to make contact with the 16 people removed.

Read the news story for more information.

Child informants

The Times, the Today programme and BBC Breakfast report on the High Court hearing regarding a legal challenge from a charity called Just for Kids Law later today. The broadcasters report that the group are expected to argue that the policy of using children as spies to investigate drugs gangs and other dangerous criminals lacks safeguards and contravenes domestic and international human rights law.

BBC Breakfast interviewed Neil Woods, a former undercover police officer, who argued that the Home Office is increasing its use of child informants to infiltrate gangs, possibly in response to an operational prompt from police.

The Today programme report claims from Justice for Kids Law that using children as informants goes against the Government’s duties under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Children’s Act. The programme added that over the past four years, 17 children have been used secretly to gather intelligence – the youngest being 15 years old.

Security Minister Ben Wallace said:

Juvenile covert human intelligence sources are used very rarely and only ever when it is necessary and proportionate and when there is no other less intrusive way to get the information needed to convict criminals or terrorist suspects. This could include helping to prevent and prosecute gang violence, drug dealing and the ‘county lines’ phenomenon all of which have a devastating impact on young people and local communities.

Their use is governed by a strict legal framework and is overseen by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner. Throughout any deployment and beyond, the welfare of the young person is the paramount consideration.

In March, the Commissioner has been clear that since January 2015 there have been 17 CHIS authorisations relating to juveniles have been approved – one of these individuals was 15 and the others were 16 or 17.

DNA sample apology

The Telegraph reports that a Government review has revealed that more than 1,350 migrants, including Gurkha families, were illegally forced to provide DNA samples to the Home Office in support of their applications to live and work in the UK.

The paper reports that migrants were told providing DNA was a requirement of their applications, but the Home Office had no legal power to demand it. The review, led by Darra Singh, revealed that 590 people provided DNA samples and 339 paid for the tests.

The Telegraph reports that the Home Secretary has already apologised for the “unacceptable” request for DNA and promised to reimburse any individual who incurred financial loss.

Read the Written Ministerial Statement for more information.

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