https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2019/07/22/home-office-in-the-media-monday-22-july/

Home Office in the media: Monday 22 July

Home Office in the media

Home Office media stories today include a National Audit Office investigation into G4S making profits from immigration removal centres, calls for drug consumption rooms and Tier 1 investor visas.

G4S profit from detention centre

There is coverage in papers and on broadcast of a National Audit Office investigation into G4S’s running of immigration removal centre, Brook House.

The Guardian reports that the NAO investigation has revealed that G4S made a profit of £14.3 million on a six-year contract running Brook House removal centre, which was the subject of a BBC Panorama documentary in September 2017 in which it was alleged that officials mocked, abused and assaulted detainees. The Home Affairs Committee asked the NAO in March to investigate claims that G4S had been inaccurately reporting its activities to generate profits of up to 20% of revenues, the Guardian reports.

The Independent reports that on the back of the abuse revelations, the Home Office fined G4S £2,768 for eight incidents, which was less than 0.5 per cent of the monthly fee. The paper also reports that the investigation found the Home Office failed to properly examine or challenge G4S on its management of the centre, saying the department did not have the people in place to properly verify or validate the company’s reported level of performance.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

The events at Brook House highlighted by Panorama were shocking, and from the very beginning we have been absolutely committed to understanding all aspects of what happened and embedding learning across all centres.

We are making significant changes to the contracting model and have developed new ways to further ensure that the safety and dignity of those detained are at the heart of what we expect from the provider, including having more staff dedicated to monitoring the performance of our service provider.

The Home Office and G4S have been working together and we remain committed to improving leadership, management and training at Brook House.

Drug consumption rooms

The Independent, Telegraph, Times and Guardian all report that the Home Office has been urged to introduce drug consumption rooms amid claims ministers are “putting ideology before people’s lives” by blocking their implementation.

The Guardian reports that 13 cross-party MPs and seven police and crime commissioners have urged the Home Secretary to allow for the introduction of drug consumption rooms (DCR) “to reduce crime and save lives’’. It comes after the number of drug-related deaths in Scotland rose by 27% over the past year to reach a record high of 1,187, putting the death rate on a par with the US, the Guardian reports.

A Home Office 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 causes of drug misuse are complex and need a range of policy responses and many of the powers to deal with drug dependency such as healthcare, housing and criminal justice are devolved in Scotland.

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.

Investor visa applications

There was follow-up coverage in the Daily Express and Times today on the Sunday Times joint investigation with Channel 4 Dispatches into how foreign millionaires are able to come to the UK under this route while hiding dubious sources of wealth and connections.

The Times reports that the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat MP, has warned unchecked visa applications must be urgently halted to prevent Russian money corrupting Britain.

The Express reports that Russians, Chinese, Iraqis and a relative of late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi benefited from the scheme, where foreigners who invest £2 million in a UK company can be allowed to live in the UK with the chance of later gaining citizenship.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

The UK has some of the most rigorous checks in place for investor visas across the world. Recent reforms, including the forthcoming wealth audit requirement, are substantial and will further cement our position as a world leader in the fight against financial crime and corruption.

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