Today's leading stories include reports on yesterday's Home Affairs Select Committee and gun licences.
Home Affairs Select Committee
The Times, Telegraph, Sun and Mail all report that the number of migrants to have arrived in Britain this year, having crossed the Channel, is more than double the figure for the whole of last year. The coverage follows the Home Secretary’s comments at the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) yesterday.
The Sun reports on the Home Secretary’s comments in which he gave an update on the number of people who have attempted the crossing. He said that there have been 1,150 attempts in 2019 with 725 arriving in the UK and 425 intercepted in France. The reporting also states that there were only 562 attempts in the whole of 2018.
The Times reports that it has cost the Home Office £780,000 to deploy two navy vessels for several weeks at the start of the year. Sir Philip Rutnam, Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, told MPs on the committee that he was content with the cost. The Telegraph reports that the Home Secretary’s declaration of a “major incident” had been a success as there was no loss of life.
The Telegraph also reports the comments the Home Secretary made about crime levels, claiming that crime could rise unless the government increases police numbers, adding that it would take three years to deliver on a pledge for an extra 20,000 officers.
A Home Office spokesperson said:
Anyone crossing the Channel in a small boat is taking a huge risk with their life and the lives of their children.
Since the Home Secretary declared a major incident in December, two cutters have returned to UK waters from overseas operations, we have agreed a joint action plan with France and increased activity out of the Joint Coordination and Information Centre in Calais. In June, the Home Secretary and the French Interior Minister, Christophe Castaner, agreed to continue to explore options to reinforce the efforts already being made.
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 50 people who arrived illegally in the UK in small boats have been returned to Europe.
Ministers are to close a loophole that has allowed people to get gun licences from police without medical checks, the Telegraph reports.
The paper reports that GPs will be required to flag any future changes in the mental state of gun owners to police.
The coverage adds that the move was announced by Nick Hurd the Policing Minister, following a warning four years ago that there could be another gun massacre because of lax medical checks. The Telegraph reports that while checks with GPs were supposed to have been tightened, rules have been applied inconsistently by police.
Nick Hurd, Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, said:
We have some of the toughest firearms controls in the world and we must do everything we can to ensure it stays this way.
We need to bring greater consistency to how firearms licences are issued and I am confident that the police, GPs and shooting groups agree. We have listened to their concerns and are proposing a way forward that tightens up the system without creating unreasonable demands.
The bottom line is public safety. Firearms must only be in the hands of the most safe and responsible people. This is not something we are prepared to compromise on.
Our press notice launching the consultation on statutory guidance for police issuing firearms licences can be found here.