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Home Office in the media

Home Office in the media: Wednesday 14 August

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Home Office in the media

Today's top media stories include coverage on migrants crossing the Channel and the Policy Exchange report on policing.

Migrants crossing the Channel

The Times front page reports that migrants are being forced to board overcrowded boats at gunpoint by trafficking gangs before crossing the English Channel.

The allegation is made in the context of a missing migrant, who the Times report is presumed dead after falling into the Channel during a crossing on Friday. The report adds that the female Iranian national is the first to die since crossings began last year, noting that more than 1,200 have made the journey to date.

The Mail separately quotes immigration sources as saying the victim was a “bright intelligent woman with a PhD who wanted to start a new life”.

The Times goes on to report that British and French authorities are hunting the gang responsible for the fatal crossing. It quotes a law enforcement source, who alleges that “coercion and gun threats” are made towards migrants before crossings. The source adds that many migrants will have “been coached” about what to say when they reach the UK.

It adds that many of those crossing are Christians and other minorities seeking protection in Britain. Many of them will have paid up to £15,000 for the journey.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of this woman at this terrible time.

The Home Office will continue to liaise with other agencies as the investigation into this incident continues.

Crossing the Channel in a small boat is a huge risk. The criminal gangs who perpetuate this are ruthless and do not care about loss of life.

We thank all the agencies at home and abroad who led the rescue attempt.

Policy Exchange report on policing

The Times and Telegraph carry coverage of a report by think tank Policy Exchange titled “Rekindling British Policing”. The Times notes the report’s finding that almost all of the promised 20,000 police recruits must be used to tackle the “total collapse” of neighbourhood units in the last decade.

The Times adds that former Metropolitan Police chief Richard Walton has called for between 16,000 and 18,000 of the officers to become “bobbies on the beat” to make community policing the priority. He adds that Boris Johnson’s pledge “represents a dramatic shift in policing policy after eight years of cuts to police budgets and police officer numbers”. He said the cuts had been accompanied by rising levels of serious and violent crime.

Mr Walton also goes on to criticise the bureaucracy of police work and what he labelled “over-bearing and excessive” scrutiny facing officers. He also called for the Independent Office for Police Conduct to be merged with HM Inspectorate of Constabulary of Fire Services.

The Telegraph coverage focuses on police being deterred from chasing or searching criminals because of fears complaints will tie them up in lengthy and unnecessary investigations by overzealous watchdogs.

In the foreword to the report, Mark Rowley the former UK national lead for counter-terror policing, said: “It is not right for officers to worry about the effect on their careers of either a complaint about stop and search or their pursuit of a fleeing offender that ends with injury”.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

The Government is taking action to protect the public by recruiting 20,000 new police officers and we are working with our policing partners to make this happen.

Consideration will always be given to the changing demands of policing and this includes PCSO’s who play an important role. Police forces themselves can decide the individual needs within existing budgets.

The National Policing Board will bring senior leaders from the sector together to discuss how well we are collectively delivering against our priorities.

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