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Home Office in the media

Home Office in the media: Thursday 8 August

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Home Office in the media

Today's Home Office media stories include coverage on the police officer who was attacked with a machete, figures on women carrying knives and Albanian gangs on Facebook.

Police officer attacked with machete

There is widespread coverage online and across broadcast this morning of the news that a police officer has been stabbed several times with a machete during a traffic stop in Leyton.

According to reports, a white van was pulled over after failing to stop. Upon approaching the vehicle, the officer was attacked and stabbed several times. During the assault he is reported to have been able to use his Taser to subdue the attacker. His colleague was then able to arrest the man.

Reports currently state that the injured officer has been taken to hospital and is believed to be in a critical but stable condition.

Police have said a man in his 50s was arrested at the scene on suspicion of GBH and taken to an east London police station for questioning. They added that there is nothing to suggest the incident is terrorism related.

Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said:

Absolutely horrified by the shocking stabbing of one of our brave police officers in Leyton overnight.

His courage in the face of danger shows how police put their lives on the line to protect us every day.

I wish the officer a full recovery and my thoughts are with him.

Woman carrying knives and knife crime

BBC online, BBC Breakfast and The Today programme report on police figures which show that knife possession offences involving women in England have increased since 2014, rising by at least 10% every year.

Some 1,509 offences were recorded in 2018 - an increase of 73% over the last five years, data obtained following freedom of information requests shows. Data from 38 forces in England shows almost a quarter of recorded offences involved girls under the age of 18, with the youngest aged seven. London’s Metropolitan Police recorded a total of 916 offences from 2014 to 2018 but Merseyside Police, Greater Manchester and south Yorkshire has seen a higher increase in offences.

The BBC reports that youth workers say some women carry weapons for male gang members as they are less likely to be stopped by police.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

We are investing £220m into steering young men and women away from violent crime, and continue to support and fund Young People’s Advocates working with gang-affected young women and girls in London, Manchester and the West Midlands.

We recently announced plans to recruit 20,000 more police officers and empower them to use fair and intelligence-led stop and search, to prevent more young people falling victim to knife crime.

Albanian gangs on Facebook

The Telegraph reports that Albanian criminals are using Facebook to counter immigration raids, smuggle illegal immigrants into Britain, set up fake marriages and scam English language citizenship tests.

The article notes that Facebook has failed to take any action against the site, called ‘Albanians in London’, which has 123,000 followers, and where the ‘criminal schemes’ are publicly posted.

The Telegraph states that the page is being run by convicted Albanian bank robber Fari Lleshi who illegally entered the UK after completing a six-year jail term for a £20,000 heist in Italy. He was deported in March after being convicted of drug dealing in Britain. As well as providing early warnings of immigration raids it is also a contact point for Albanians seeking people smugglers to bring them into the UK and English-speaking criminals prepared to sit language tests so they could get a visa or driving licence.

The article reports that the page was shut down within an hour after being contacted by the Daily Telegraph. Facebook said it would have taken down the page if its administrators had not already “unpublished” it.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

We will not tolerate any abuse of the immigration system and are clear that anyone found to be deliberately disrupting enforcement should feel the full force of the law.

Social media companies have a responsibility to prevent illegal activity on their platforms.

Our Online Harms White Paper proposes a duty on companies to tackle illegal activity on their platforms, including organised immigration crime.

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