Tag Archives: home office

Norman Baker: “The Lib Dems want to restore the public’s trust in the police”

Norman BakerToday’s London Evening Standard front page splashes on the news that the Lib Dems intend to tighten the laws on stop and search, and require some police officers to wear body cameras when they stop someone:

Armed police, riot squads and officers carrying out some stop-and-search in London would have to wear body cameras under Liberal Democrat proposals unveiled today.

The law and order reform, which will be in the party’s 2015 general election manifesto, will also require police to get a judge’s approval to carry out controversial Section 60 stop-and-searches. The existing law lets a senior officer authorise the stopping and searching of individuals in a certain area without suspicion of wrongdoing if he or she believes violence is about to erupt or that people are carrying weapons without good reason.

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Julian Huppert MP writes…Let’s bring the “polluter pays” principle to government decision making

imageAll too often Government departments get decisions wrong. Most notorious are the Home Office and the Department of Work and Pensions. Many people will be well aware of the anguish faced by those awaiting Employment and Support Allowance appeals, and the same is true for those waiting to see if they can stay in the country, or bring in a spouse.

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Lord Roger Roberts writes…Please try to prevent the imminent death of a seeker of sanctuary

Yesterday I met Mr Isa Muaza who, until last night, was due to be forced on to a plane to Nigeria this evening. Though his removal directions have been moved – and set – for 29 November he remains at death’s door.

Isa is a failed asylum seeker who has been held in detention at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre. The case is one of enforced removal, although very little real force will be necessary in his case. He has been on hunger strike and has lost 40% of his body mass. He is close to death.

Isa was not well when …

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Nick Clegg stops Theresa May’s £3000 immigration bond

nick cleggWay back in March, in a speech that, to say the least, was not well received in the party, Nick Clegg proposed that some people visiting Britain from “high risk” countries should pay a bond. He said:

One idea, which appeals to me, is a system of security bonds. And so I’ve asked the Home Office to do some work on it with a view to running a pilot before the end of the year.

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Norman Baker talks about immigration, conspiricies and taking on Teresa May

Norman BakerThe Independent today carries an interview with the new Lib Dem Home Office minister, Norman Baker. You know, that minister of conspiracy theories according to some media wags.

In his interview, Baker comes across as eminently sensible and defiantly Liberal. He is poised to reign in Teresa May’s excesses and tells the newspaper that has been told by Nick Clegg to range across all policy areas to “make sure there is a liberal voice clearly heard in the Home Office.”

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How to do Twitter, Home Office style

Oh, they have been busy bees at the Home Office this Summer.  The Go Home vans, immigration checks at tube stations, not telling Nick Clegg what they’re up to, it’s amazing they’ve found time for anything else.

On Tuesday they published their Twitter policy. While I’d like to think it was hastily drawn up in response to criticism of the way its account was used during the immigration spot checks, with statistics of how many people had been arrested were given along with disturbing photographs of people being bundled into vans, I’m not sure the wheels of …

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What are your rights if stopped by Home Office officials in the street?

I don’t often swear online. It usually takes an immense act of stupidity from a Formula 1 driver to incite me to do so, and the last time I tried that, the Chief Whip told me off mere seconds later. So profanity, even mildly, in a blog post is very unusual, particularly when directed at our leader. Which is why I did my little rant about these burly Home Office types turning up at tube stations and conducting checks on people’s immigration status on my own blog.

This is the second Home Office show of  disproportionate force in the last …

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Finally, the media pick up on Coalition split on offensive poster vans

There’s a big lesson to learn from the offensive poster van fiasco this week. Sometimes we Liberal Democrats, including me, can be quick to feel a dividing line between those inside the Whitehall Bubble and the rest of us. This week, we spoke with one voice. Liberal Democrats inside Government were every bit as livid as those of us outside at the presence of these vans on our streets. With their stark message “Go home or face arrest”, illustrated by handcuffs, they can only inflame tensions in communities.

We now know that the Tories have pulled a fast one on us. …

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Teather slams Home Office “Go Home” billboards as “straightforward intimidation”

The Evening Standard reports that the Home Office is planning on sending large billboards with “Go home or face arrest” on them around six London boroughs:

The billboards will also display the number of illegal migrants arrested recently in the relevant part of the capital.

Ministers say that the hardline message is intended to encourage visa overstayers or others here unlawfully to return voluntarily.

A phone number offering help – including potential free flights and other travel assistance – will also be shown on the adverts along with the promise that those who come forward voluntarily will not be detained while they

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Layla Moran writes… Child Detention still happens: Boy held at Campsfield for ‘2-3 months’

It is my belief that in a civilized society we should protect children. That they should not be punished for the actions of their parents or grandparents and that they should be given every chance of leading a fulfilled, healthy and normal childhood. And they most certainly should not be locked up without cause because of their family’s decision either.

Celebrating the end of child detention with Citizens UK #LDConf
Photo: Helen Duffett on Flickr.

Sadly for many years, this was not only true but also prevalent. Children who were here illegally were held in immigration deportation centres for months and sometimes years, were not allowed to go to school, not allowed to develop. A child does not, in full understanding of the consequences, make the decision to enter a country illegally. It would have been the decision of their family in whatever form that may take; yet until 2011 they were punished as equals to these adults.

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The ins and outs of the Snoopers Charter

web snoopers charterYou may be forgiven for being confused over whether the Snoopers Charter (aka the Communications Data Bill)  is in or out.

Back in December Julian Huppert reported that the Joint Committee that was looking at the Bill had unanimously agreed that it would have to be significantly amended to be acceptable. In an article in the Independent he wrote: “We have gone through the Home Office proposals – and the results are damning. The Bill as it is simply cannot proceed. “

In April, Nick Clegg vetoed the Bill, and

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Official: the snoopers’ charter is dead in this parliament

One element missing from the Queen’s Speech was the Communications Data Bill, aka the ‘snoopers’ charter’. No surprise to Lib Dems: Nick Clegg torpedoed it last month.

So I had a momentary spasm of concern to see on ConservativeHome this story from Mark Wallace: The Snoopers’ Charter comes sneaking back. Again.

I asked Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert (who’s played a crucial role in safeguarding civil liberties this parliament, including on this Bill) if there were any truth in it, and got an immediate reply…

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An open letter to Jeremy Browne MP on civil liberties… Part 1: The failed regulator

Dear Jeremy

I doubt that in amongst all the ludicrously large number of issues that pass across the desk of a minister, and a Home Office one no less, you will have noticed a small victory I scored over the Home Office recently.

But I hope you’ll give a pause for thought to the implications of the ruling the Information Commissioner made in my favour over the Home Office (decision notice reference FS50469527).

Partly it’s because of what it says about the never-quite-dead proposals for a huge expansion of monitoring of our online activity. Partly it’s because of what the case reveals …

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LibLink: Sarah Teather – Asylum through a child’s eyes

Former Children’s Minister Sarah Teather was personally thanked by Citizens UK at Liberal Democrat Conference in September for her role, as Children’s Minister, in ending child detention for immigration purposes. She said then that there was much more to achieve on the way the UK Borders Agency operates.

This week she’s launched an enquiry into the support for families within the asylum system. She wrote about that enquiry and what she wants to achieve for Politics Home:

If you have never had a conversation with a young asylum seeker about their

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Only a week to respond to Lynne Featherstone’s consultation on equal civil marriage

Time is running out to respond to the Government’s consultation on equal civil marriage which has been implemented by our own Lynne Featherstone.

It’s really important that everyone who believes in equal marriage should make sure that their voice is heard.

The consultation closes a week tomorrow, 14th June. Don’t leave it till the last minute – make sure you do it today.

If you’re unsure about the issues, those nice people at LGBT+ Lib Dems have prepared a helpful pack which outlines all the issues and arguments.

I also thought you might like to see the video Cambridge Liberal Democrat Councillor Sarah Brown did for the Out 4 Marriage campaign, which was reported in Pink News recently.  She talks very movingly about how she and her wife had to dissolve their marriage in 2009 and opt for a civil partnership. She describes how painful it was to have their years of  marriage “confiscated by the state”.

 

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Julian Huppert MP writes… Safeguards to control state surveillance

Stories came out yesterday, leaked as ever from some unknown source, which have led to justifiable outrage about proposals to capture all our online communications. We all know that one shouldn’t entirely trust what is in newspapers, especially when the security services are involved and there is a palpable lack of detailed announcements, but liberals everywhere are rightly anxious.

I’m extremely concerned about the extension of state surveillance, and have fought hard to stop it. Since I first got wind of the proposals in 2010, I’ve had a series of meetings with industry experts and others about it. I asked the Prime Minister about it in October 2010 and, while the details remain cloaked, I have some idea of what might be proposed.

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Opinion: Lynne Featherstone’s defence of evidence-based translational medicine is welcome

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The sparsely-attended adjournment debate on Wednesday secured by Conservative MP David Amess, saw a rare thing – a genuine discussion based around the merits of peer-reviewed scientific research and a robust defence of an evidence-based approach to translational medicine from Lib Dem Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone. For a biology nerd interested in the application of scientific knowledge to public policy it had all the ingredients of a pre-Christmas gift – I can fully recommend the Hansard transcript for a full picture (yes, I am that sad…).

Mr. Amess has some track record of Parliamentary campaigning against animal cruelty, …

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Lynne Featherstone launches body confidence teaching pack

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Met Police and Home Office put on special measures for breaking rules

One for the bureaucratic irony files this. The Information Commissioner has announced that 33 public sector bodies have so regularly broken the rules on responding to Freedom of Information requests that they have been put in special measures.

The 33 bodies are all being required to fully document how they handle future requests and report monthly to the Information Commissioner on how they are doing are complying with the rules. Their record will be reviewed in three months time.

Home Office frontage. Photo credit: </a>…</p>
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Rejoice! 11 months (and 1 new government) on and the Home Office responds

Long term readers may recall my concerns over how the approach the Independent Safeguarding Authority was taking to the Vetting and Baring scheme, and in particular the way its guidance suggested that it didn’t really treat being found innocent in a court as counting as being innocent.

The ISA passed the issue on to the Home Office, and – as I previously reported – then there was silence, despite prompts from me. Silence too reigned when I contacted my Labour MP, Jeremy Corbyn, three times about the matter. Between them they didn’t even reply the once.

The ISA had the …

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Home Office report recommends labelling of airbrushed images aimed at children

The Home Office has published an independent review into the sexualisation of young people, conducted by psychologist Linda Papadopoulos.

The report warns that children are being increasingly exposed to sexual imagery through advertising, music videos, computer games, magazines and some children’s clothing lines.

From the BBC:

Unless sexualisation is accepted as harmful, we will miss an important opportunity… to broaden young people’s beliefs about where their values lies,” said Dr Papadopoulos, a psychologist. The report’s 36 recommendations include calling for games consoles, mobile phones and some computers to be sold with parental controls already switched on.”

Other recommendations include banning “sexualised” music videos before the TV watershed, making digital literacy a compulsory part of the curriculum from age 5, and labelling airbrushed images:

Evidence suggests that even brief exposure to airbrushed images can lead to acute body dissatisfaction. To help combat this, efforts to raise levels of media literacy should be accompanied by initiatives aimed at encouraging society to take a more critical and questioning approach to the harmful perpetuation of unrealistic ideals. I therefore recommend the introduction of a system of ratings symbols for photographs to show the extent to which they have been altered. This is particularly critical in magazines targeting teen and pre-teen audiences.

The BBC, in reporting the findings, indulges in a little airbrushing of its own:

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Memo to Home Office: it would be terribly nice if you sometimes answered a letter

From a letter to my MP:

I emailed Sir Roger Singleton on 14 September about my concerns with the way the Independent Safeguarding Authority’s guidelines state that if someone has been found innocent in a court of law that does not mean they could have been completely innocent. Particularly given the many issues about the ISA’s remit, this choice of wording in their own guidelines is one of obvious concern.

I heard nothing so I emailed again on 16 October. On 19 October I was told by the Vetting & Barring Scheme Information Team that the issue had been passed to

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Tackling crime: talking to and involving the public works

The Home Office has recently published a review of the research into how to improve public confidence in the police. One of their conclusions? The very community politics idea, expressed in very New Labour vocabulary, that

The strategies most likely to be effective in improving confidence are initiatives aimed at increasing community engagement. Three out of the four interventions classified in the ‘what works’ evidence all included an element of communicating and engaging with the community (embedding neighbourhood policing; high quality community engagement; and using local-level communications/newsletters).

In other words: talk to people, listen to them and involve them. That is …

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Better late than never

Some positive news today in the fight for justice for Gary McKinnon, the Asperger’s sufferer and alleged computer hacker who is facing extradition to the USA, a fate which it is believed could jeopardise his health:

The Home Secretary confirmed today that he had “stopped the clock” on proceedings to extradite the British alleged hacker Gary McKinnon to the United States. Alan Johnson told MPs that he was examining new medical evidence in the case, and would allow Mr McKinnon’s lawyers more time to consider medical reports and make legal representations.

Mr McKinnon, from North London, is wanted by US prosecutors

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Opinion: Youth justice – a golden opportunity for the Lib Dems

Youth justice has risen, zombie-like, from the place unloved political issues go to die. In July, the Government published an interim report on The Youth Crime Action Plan, its “comprehensive, cross-government analysis of what the government is going to do to tackle youth crime.”

This prompted vigorous activity from the think-tanks and NGOs, and a predictable silence from the dead who may live again, aka the Conservative Party.

Last week, the Liberal Democrats published data showing that the number of 10 to 12 year olds convicted of a criminal offence rose by 87.2% between 1997 and 2007. Nick Clegg, remarking on the figures, argued that:

It is a disgrace the Government spends eleven times more locking up our young people than it does on backing projects to stop them getting involved in crime in the first place.”

Unless you happen to be keen on nineteenth century penal philosophy, Nick’s comment seems to make excellent sense. I would suggest, however, that it is, at best, carelessly imprecise. At worst, it indicates a refusal to challenge the prevailing conservative narrative on youth crime. Given recent reporting of events in Doncaster, a measured rebuttal is more critical than ever.

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Simon Hughes challenges Home Secretary over McKinnon extradition

Yesterday’s LDV highlighted an article by Lib Dem peer Lord (Alex) Carlile, urging that alleged computer hacker Gary McKinnon not be extradited to the USA to face charges – it is feared Mr McKinnon’s health could significantly deteriorate as a result of his Asperger’s condition. Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes used the opportunity of topical questions to the Home Secretary yesterday to ask Alan Johnson direct if he would intervene to prevent Mr McKinnon’s extradition.

Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey) (LD): Will the Home Secretary act now to deal with growing anger in my constituency and around

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Lib Dems press on Kingsnorth climate camp policing

Lib Dem Voice has covered before the allegations of that the policing at the climate camp at Kingsnorth in August 2008 was unacceptable – click here for the archive. Lib Dem MPs are continuing to press the Home Office to present an honest account of what happened, and to state what lessons have been learned for future policing of peaceful protests.

Yesterday in the Commons, both Greg Mulholland and Chris Huhne asked the questions of the Government’s minister for policing. Here are the exchanges from Hansard:

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Huhne on Green arrest: “monumental shambles” by senior civil servants

Tory MP Damien Green will not face criminal charges for his alleged role in leaking confidential home office documents, the Crown Prosecutions Service has announced. Menawhile the home affairs parliamentary select committee has found that civil servants exaggerated the seriousness of the leaks, claiming they had caused ‘considerable damage to national security’.

Lib Dem shadow home secretary Chris Huhne has not minced his words:

This is a monumental shambles. It is astonishing that ministers were not consulted, if the Home Affairs Select Committee is right, as they should have realised the political consequences of being seen to harass an

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‘Toothache, diarrhoea, cut fingers and possible bee stings’ – the injuries that Kingsnorth climate camp protestors were blamed for inflicting on police

Kudos to Lib Dem MP David Howarth for his role in forcing an apology from a Labour home office minister who had blamed protestors who attended the Kingsnorth climate camp for hurting 70 police officers. The Guardian has the story today:

A minister apologised to parliament yesterday for telling MPs that 70 police officers were hurt during a climate change protest … The apology followed a freedom of information request from the Liberal Democrats, which showed that no officers in the £5.9m police operation at Kingsnorth power station in Kent during August had been injured by protesters. Instead, police records showed that their medical unit had dealt mostly with toothache, diarrhoea, cut fingers and “possible bee stings”.

And here’s the Hansard exchange:

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Baker takes on rozzers

Earlier in the year, we carried a piece raising concerns with the policing at the Kingsnorth climate camp.

It’s not just our own councillors concerned with the conduct of the police at that event. A report in the Guardian suggests that people at all levels of governance from councillor to MEP have raised concerns.

Norman Baker MP said, “I personally witnessed unnecessarily aggressive policing, unprovoked violence against peaceful protesters, an extraordinary number of police on site, and tactics such as confiscating toilet rolls, board games and clown costumes from what I saw to be peaceful demonstrators.”

Now, according to a report …

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