Home Office in the media

https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2019/12/19/home-office-in-the-media-thursday-19-december/

Home Office in the media: Thursday 19 December

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Today's leading stories include reports on fraud, foreign fighters and NowMedical.

Fraud

The Times and Telegraph report on fraud in the UK, and the number of officers dedicated to investigating this type of crime.

The figures were obtained by the Times under a Freedom of Information Act which asked 29 out of the 43 police forces the number of officers they had investigating fraud.

According to both papers, only one in 200 police officers is dedicated to investigating fraud, despite it accounting for more than a third of all crimes.

Both papers note that amid a surge in online and cold-calling scams, there were 3.8 million incidents of fraud last year – more than a third of all crimes in England and Wales.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

We are moving at pace to recruit 20,000 extra police officers to fight all forms of crime and have launched a review of serious and organised crime to consider the powers, capabilities, governance and funding required to bolster our response to today’s threats, including fraud.

The Government is also committed to strengthening the National Crime Agency and creating a new national cyber-crime force to crackdown on criminals online.

While dedicated fraud teams tend to handle the most serious and complex fraud cases, less complex investigations are often undertaken by other investigators. It is for chief constables to make operational decisions on how best to deploy their resources.

Foreign Fighters

The Independent carries a large report focusing on the stories of two detained British foreign fighters who "want to come home" – Aseel Muthana and Ishak Mostefaoui.

According to the article, Aseel Muthana decided to travel to Syria after his older brother joined Daesh.

The article reports that the British Government will not reveal how many of its nationals are in the custody of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and it “refuses to bring them home to the country where they were radicalised to face justice”. It argues that this policy means that many of these individual’s stories – of their path to radicalisation, their motivations, their role in Daesh and their crimes – have “largely gone untold”.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

The Government’s priority is the safety and security of the UK and the people who live here.

Those who have fought for or supported Daesh should wherever possible face justice for their crimes in the most appropriate jurisdiction, which will often be in the region where their offences have been committed.

NowMedical

The Independent has further reported that lawyers and campaigners have called for an end to state medical assessments of sick and disabled people being carried out by NowMedical.

The article notes that judges warned councils against relying on the firm’s advice and overturned decisions determined by its assessments, calling them “irrational” and criticising the firm for not taking the time to meet or speak to those they are assessing.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

The Home Office procured the services of Now Medical to provide independent medical advice, which is required to assist case workers making decisions on the suitability of accommodation and ability to travel. This advice is considered alongside the medical evidence provided by applicants and all other factors.

We are committed to providing support which meets the needs of asylum seekers and their dependants in line with current legislation.

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