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Home Office in the media

Home Office in the media blog: Wednesday 17 July

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Today's Home Office in the media stories include rural domestic abuse, drug deaths in Scotland, victims of modern slavery and the future immigration system.

Home Office in the media

Rural domestic abuse

There is widespread coverage, including on the Today programme, of a report from the National Rural Crime Network, which shows that women in rural areas are half as likely to report domestic abuse than victims in urban areas.

The Guardian and Telegraph report that they are being failed by authorities, due to the unavailability of public services.

BBC Breakfast featured an interview with Luke and Ryan Lance, whose father shot death their mother and sister. They spoke to the BBC about how their father moved their family to the countryside from the city, and increasingly isolated their mother, including making her give up work.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

Domestic Abuse is a horrendous crime that we are committed to tackling. We outlined that commitment today by introducing the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill in Parliament.

Whether it takes place in our rural communities or cities, we are supporting Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners so they can deploy resources as they best see fit to tackle crime, including domestic abuse.

The new Domestic Abuse Commissioner will play an important role in monitoring the provision of services for victims of domestic abuse, including those in rural communities.

Scotland drug deaths

There is widespread coverage of the high rate of drug-related deaths in Scotland, following statistics by the National Record of Scotland revealing that Scotland has the highest rate in the EU.

The Independent reports that the statistics show a 27 percent increase last year, with 1,187 people dying from taking drugs. The death rate is triple that of England and Wales, and even higher than the US, the paper says. It reports that most of the increase in fatalities was in the over-35 age group of long-term users.

The Telegraph reports that Scotland’s “out of control” methadone programme, in which the heroin substitute is prescribed to addicts, has been blamed for the rising death toll.

A Government spokesperson said:

Any death related to drug misuse is a tragedy. Our Drug Strategy is bringing together police, health, community and global partners to tackle the illicit drug trade, protect the most vulnerable and help those with a drug dependency to recover.

The Home Secretary has appointed Professor Dame Carol Black to carry out a major review of drug misuse. The review, which is building on existing government strategies to combat drugs, serious violence and serious and organised crime, is examining the harms that drugs cause and the best ways to prevent drug-taking. We will ensure that lessons from the review are shared with our partners in the devolved administrations.

The UK Government has been clear that there is no legal framework for the provision of drug consumption rooms and there are no plans to introduce them.

Detained modern slavery victims

The Home Office has been accused of covering up the plight of hundreds of modern slavery victims after it was forced to disclose data it previously claimed to have no record of, the Independent reports.

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request submitted by data-mapping project After Exploitation last week revealed 508 people who had been enslaved or trafficked were detained under immigration powers in 2018. This is despite Home Office guidance that this group of vulnerable people should not be placed in detention, the paper adds.

An open letter signed by more than 20 charities condemns the “conflict of interest” between immigration enforcement and a duty to protect trafficking victims. The letter warns that the scale of the problem has gone largely unchallenged due to a “lack of data transparency”.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

Modern slavery and human trafficking are barbaric crimes and we remain committed to stamping it out and supporting genuine victims.

There is a presumption against detention of adults identified as at risk and it would only happen when the evidence of their vulnerability is outweighed by immigration control factors.

All Home Office staff working in the detention system are given training to ensure potential victims of trafficking and slavery can be identified at any time during the immigration process and have their cases considered under the National Referral Mechanism.

Calls for immigration overhaul

A group of business organisations representing thousands of firms have demanded the next Prime Minister changes proposed post-Brexit immigration plans, City AM and the Telegraph report.
The groups have highlighted a number of issues with the Immigration White Paper, arguing that the economy faces a devastating drought of workers. They add that the system risks exacerbating the UK’s chronic skills and labour shortages.

The letter calls for the threshold for migrant workers to be lowered from £30,000 per year to £20,000. The businesses also want the temporary work route to be extended from one year to two years, and for two-year visas to be reinstated for international students graduating from British universities.

For more information how on the future immigration system supports business, read our fact sheet.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

Our new skills-based immigration system is designed to attract the talented workers we need for the economy to continue to prosper, while also delivering on the referendum result following the end of free movement.

We know there are a range of views about salary thresholds, and the Home Secretary has asked independent experts to advise on this issue before the proposals are finalised next year.

The new system will reduce the burden on businesses by streamlining and simplifying our sponsorship system and we will create a new temporary work route to allow UK companies access to the employees they need to thrive.


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