https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2019/07/03/home-office-in-the-media-blog-wednesday-3-july/

Home Office in the media blog: Wednesday 3 July

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Today's leading stories include coverage of medicinal cannabis, Subject Access Requests and the latest report from the Independent Monitoring Board.

Medicinal cannabis

The Telegraph, Times, Guardian and Today Programme cover a report by the Health and Social Care committee that has criticised several aspects of the Government’s handling of the legalisation of some medicinal cannabis products.

The Telegraph leads on criticisms levelled at the Home Office, noting that the report has urged the Department to stop confiscating medicinal cannabis products from the parents of sick children at the border.

The paper does acknowledge the Government’s response which notes that it is currently illegal to import such products without a license and that Border Force have an obligation to enforce the law.

All reports carry a Government response at least in part.

A Government spokesperson said:

We will carefully consider this report and its recommendations alongside the outcome of the NHS England review into the use of cannabis-based products for medicinal use in the NHS.

In doing so, the Government will consider any further action we might take to strengthen the evidence base and improve access to cannabis-based products for medicinal use where specialist doctors determine it is clinically appropriate.

Subject Access Request

The Independent reports that the Home Office has been accused of failing to respond to Subject Access Requests (SAR) related to immigrants seeking vital information.

According to the newspaper, under data protection law any individual can request their personal data from an organisation or public body by submitting a SAR. However, lawyers have said that some people targeted by Immigration Enforcement were being wrongfully detained or deported because they were unable to challenge the department’s decisions in their cases because they did not have access to their data.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

Individuals can submit a Subject Access Request to request a full copy of their Home Office file.

We aim to respond to individuals within 1 month of their identity being verified. However, given complexities of some cases this is not always possible.

Independent Monitoring Board report

The Times reports that, according to the Independent Monitoring Board, children are being held in “unsuitable” temporary detention at Heathrow airport for more than 12 hours at a time.

The article says the report, welcomed “marked improvements” in the conditions but said the facilities still failed to provide satisfactory overnight accommodation at a time when lengths of detention for some people had become “unacceptably long”.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

Immigration detention is an important part of the wider immigration system, but we are committed to using it sparingly and only when necessary.

The health and welfare of those in immigration detention, especially children and other vulnerable people, is of the utmost importance.

We are pleased that the Independent Monitoring Board has recognised that the removal of detainees at Heathrow Airport is carried out satisfactorily.

We are considering the contents of the report and the Independent Monitoring Board's recommendations carefully.

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