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Home Office in the media

Home Office in the media: Tuesday 7 January

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Home Office in the media

Today's top stories include the sentencing of a serial rapist, calls for an overhaul of police forces, car crime figures and child sexual abuse images.

Serial rapist

The sentencing of Reynhard Sinaga, who may have preyed on almost 200 young men, dominates the papers this morning with the Guardian, Mail and Mirror all leading on it. The story is also running on broadcast.

The Guardian reports that the 36-year-old mature student from Indonesia is thought by police to have abused at least 195 men over two and a half years after luring them to his flat under the guise of being a “good Samaritan”, drugging his victims and then attacking them after they passed out.

In a separate article, the Guardian reports that the Home Secretary has called for an urgent review into whether more stringent controls are needed for so-called date-rape drugs such as Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB). The Home Secretary has asked the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to review current controls on the drug. The article reports how Sinaga used the drug to sedate his victims with spiked drinks.

 Home Secretary Priti Patel said:

Sinaga committed truly sickening crimes and it is right that he has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

I extend my heartfelt sympathy to his victims and my gratitude to the police and prosecutors who worked on this case and put him behind bars.

I’m deeply concerned by the use of illegal drugs like GHB to perpetrate these crimes and have asked the independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to expedite a review looking at whether our controls for these drugs are tough enough.

Overhaul of police forces

Ministers must seize the opportunity to restructure the UK's 43-force system as part of a forthcoming review of criminal justice, one of Britain's most senior police officers tells the Times.

The National Police Chiefs' Council head, Martin Hewitt, said now is the right time to rethink policing priorities and set out proposals addressing the national impact of having dozens of force areas. He has called on the Government to include policing in the Royal Commission on criminal justice.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

The Government is delivering on the people’s priorities by recruiting 20,000 extra police officers and is committed to a Royal Commission looking at the criminal justice system to ensure that it works for the law-abiding majority.

We have also empowered Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables to tackle local priorities and continue to bolster national law enforcement capabilities, including the National Crime Agency and Counter Terrorism Policing.

Car crime

The chances of police catching and successfully prosecuting car criminals has fallen almost five-fold in just two years, the Telegraph and Sun report.

Analysis of force data shows that one in 400 crimes, or 0.25 per cent, where the offenders broke into or stole a vehicle resulted in jail, a fine, community service or a caution in 2019. The paper notes that in most instances, the case was closed without a suspect being identified.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

We are delivering on the people’s priorities and recruiting 20,000 extra officers over the next three years to make sure the police have the resources they need to tackle crime.

Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners are responsible for setting priorities which reflect the concerns of the people they serve but we expect them to take all forms of crime seriously.

Police and Crime Commissioners covering areas worst affected by vehicle theft can bid for resources from the recently announced Safer Streets Fund to invest in preventative measures.

Child sex abuse images

The Independent reports that a third of child sex abuse images are originally posted online by children themselves, with warnings of a growing trend where minors share graphic footage for “likes”.

The paper reports that the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) said that there has been a “significant change” in the amount of self-generated images, which are mostly taken by girls aged between 11 and 13, over the past year.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

Child sexual abuse is an abhorrent crime and predators who share or view indecent images of children are complicit in this horrific abuse and can expect the full weight of the law to come down on them.

We are bringing forward ground-breaking legislation to protect the public from online harms, including children and the most vulnerable users and make the UK the safest place in the world to be online.

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