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Home Office in the media

Home Office in the media: Friday 20 September

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Home Office in the media

Today's leading stories include drug misuse statistics, the recording of rape crimes, figures on football-related arrests, and a report into County Lines gangs.

Drug statistics

Widespread coverage is given to yesterday’s drug misuse statistics release, with the Guardian, Star, Times, Independent, Telegraph, Metro, Sun, Express and Mail carrying reports.

The Mail, Sun and Express lead with the headline figure that up to 1.3 million people aged between 16 and 59 use cocaine or ecstasy in the UK. The papers place particular emphasis on middle class drug use and the tripling of drug use in rural communities.

The Times adds that the record number of Class A users has been attributed to the “explosion in the number of summer music festivals”. It adds that the increasing availability of cocaine has “helped alter its reputation as a drug for professionals”.

It added that a “bumper harvest in Colombia” and “door-to-door delivery services that bring drugs to users in minutes, as well as county lines” were also believed to be factors behind the increase.

The Guardian reports that Class A drugs use among 16-24 year olds is at a record high – with around 9%, or 550,000, having used Class A drugs in the past year.

A Government spokesperson said:

While overall levels of drug misuse are similar to a decade ago, the Government is concerned about the upward trend in more recent years – particularly Class A use.

We are committed to reducing the use of drugs and the harms they cause and the Home Office has commissioned a major independent review to examine these issues.

We’re also determined to crack down on criminals who supply drugs, causing misery to families and communities. The Home Office is funding 20,000 new officers over the next three years, which will boost police resources in tackling crime, while the National Crime Agency works with partners around the world to target crime groups that traffic drugs into the UK.

Recording of rape crimes

Thousands of reports of rape have been inaccurately recorded by the police, the Guardian reports, adding that many of those cases never appear in official figures. The report was picked up by the Today programme and Sun.

The paper conducted an analysis of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) audits of police forces, which showed that between August 2016 and July 2019 only three of 34 English and Welsh forces were found to have accurately recorded complaints of rape.

It adds that of 4,900 audited rape reports, 552 were found to be inaccurate, with those suffering with mental health and addiction issues, and victims of trafficking, found to be particularly vulnerable to misrecording.

A Government spokesperson said:

Rape and sexual violence are horrific crimes

We are conducting an end-to-end review into the criminal justice response to rape, which will help us to better understand the decline in cases reaching the courts and improve our overall response.

We are taking action to restore public confidence in the justice system by recruiting 20,000 more police, creating extra prison places and reviewing sentencing to make sure violent and sexual offenders are properly punished.

Football hate crime

Hate crime at football matches surged by 47 per cent last year during one of the worst seasons for racist abuse in a decade, the Telegraph and Sun report.

The papers report on figures released by the Home Office yesterday, which show there were 193 hate crime incidents in 2018/19, compared to 131 the season before. Of those cases, 79 per cent related to race.

The Telegraph coverage further adds that there were 1,381 football-related arrests in England and Wales, a drop of 10 per cent.

Both papers report that the increase has been linked to improvements in data recording.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

Fans should be able to enjoy football in safety. It’s reassuring that the number of matches affected by anti-social behaviour continues to decrease, but we are clear that violence or disorder will not be tolerated.

That is why we are supporting the police by recruiting 20,000 new police officers over the next three years, and funding for policing is increasing by more than £1 billion this year, including council tax and the serious violence fund.

Racist and homophobic chanting at football matches is a criminal offence, and the Government has provided funding to Kick it Out to ensure all hate crimes are accurately recorded – whether it is during a game, or on social media.

County lines

Following coverage on the Today programme yesterday, the Guardian, Times and Metro report on claims from the Mayor of London that cuts to police are leading to more young people joining county lines gangs.

The papers report that more than 4,000 people have been recruited in London, including children as young as 11.

Most of those identified between January 2017 and April 2019 were males aged between 15 and 19, who were linked to lines spread across 41 counties.

The Times reports that drug gangs have begun setting up children to be excluded from school so they can be lured into crime more easily. The paper adds that common tactics also include staging robberies or encouraging them to use drugs, building up debt that they have to work off.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

We are absolutely determined to disrupt the gangs and put an end to the abhorrent exploitation of children and young people that county lines brings.

We have provided £3.6 million to establish the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre which has resulted in more than 1,600 arrests and the safeguarding of over 2,100 individuals since its launch one year ago.

We are also recruiting 20,000 new police officers over the next three years, and we are investing over £1 million into early intervention projects in London that specifically address those at risk of getting involved in county lines.


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