Tag Archives: home office

Alistair Carmichael MP writes…Suzanne Fletcher reminds us how one person can make a difference for vulnerable people

Today in Parliament the Minister for Immigration was forced to explain why G4S were housing asylum seekers behind red doors, leaving them open to targeted attacks. The Minister, who said he was “deeply concerned”, in response sprang into action announcing an audit of asylum seeker accommodation in the North East. Good to see the Minister reacting so quickly to something that was only in the papers that morning you might think. Not so.

Suzanne Fletcher, former Liberal Democrat Councillor and now Chair for Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary, has been campaigning on this issue doggedly for years. In fact, it is predominantly down to her campaign work that this became a news story today.

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Carmichael calls for time limit on immigration detention

The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto last year called for an end to indefinite detention for immigration purposes, building on the end to child detention that Nick Clegg insisted upon as part of the coalition agreement. Today, a review of welfare in detention of vulnerable people conducted for the Home Office by Stephen Shaw has been published. In it he makes 64 recommendations, including that alternatives to detention be sought. Some of the changes he wants to see are so basic that you are shocked that they are not done already – the provision of even basic mental health treatment, for a start.

This one is quite chilling:

Recommendation 33: I recommend that the Home Office review detainees’ access to natural light and to the open air, and invite contractors to bring forward proposals to increase the time that detainees can spend outside.

And as for this one, you mean we don’t already?

Recommendation 35: I recommend that the service provider at Yarl’s Wood should only conduct searches of women and of women’s rooms in the presence of men in the most extreme and pressing circumstances, and that there should be monitoring and reporting of these cases.

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No, the Liberal Democrats do not owe Police Scotland £800,000 (or any other sum for that matter)

Get into an argument with any cybernat and, sooner or later, when you’ve won the argument, you’ll have it thrown at you, a bit like a modern Godwin’s Law, that the Liberal Democrats should pay their £800,000 bill to Police Scotland.

This is all to do with the security arrangements for our conference in Glasgow in 2013. South of the Border, the Home Office picks up these costs. As policing is devolved, the Scottish Government had responsibility and refused to do so. That meant that, apart from a small contribution to cover the costs of accreditation from the UK Government, Police Scotland had to pick up the tab themselves. Nothing to do with us.

Every time I get this, I refer the cybernat in question to this response to a freedom of information request which comprehensively debunks the idea that we owe any money to Police Scotland at all. Read my lips,

By way of explanation, it has been reported in the media that there is an outstanding invoice of £800,000 for this conference; however, this is factually incorrect. No invoice for the policing costs of the conference was ever generated and the Liberal Democrats did not enter into any arrangement with Police Scotland to provide policing.

In case it wasn’t clear the first time:

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Home Office mistreatment of LGBT people must be stopped

One of the low points of this week for me was reading about Aderonke Apata.  She came to the UK after her girlfriend was murdered in Nigeria but this week a Home Office barrister actually stood up in court in public and argued Aderonke couldn’t possibly be a lesbian because she had children and because she wasn’t “part of the social group known as lesbians.” Do people not think about how ridiculous these things sound before they say them out loud? The Independent reports:

But the Home Office argues that Ms Apata could not be considered a lesbian because she has children and has previously been in heterosexual relationships. Ms Apata’s barrister, Abid Mahmood, said these were “highly offensive… stereotypical views of the past”.

He told the hearing: “Some members of the public may have those views but it doesn’t mean a government department should be putting these views forward in evidence.”

The Home Secretary’s barrister, Andrew Bird, argued that Ms Apata was “not part of the social group known as lesbians” but had “indulged in same-sex activity”. He continued: “You can’t be a heterosexual one day and a lesbian the next day. Just as you can’t change your race.”

Holding hands with her wife-to-be Happiness Agboro in court yesterday, Ms Apata, 47, was surrounded by dozens of gay-rights activists.

Homosexuality is punishable by up to 14 years in prison in Nigeria under laws passed in January 2014 and there has been a spike in violence against gay people.

There have long been concerns about the frankly cruel, inhumane and brutal way the Home Office treats LGBT people that pre-dates this government. While Labour were in office, they used to tell people that they’d be fine in their home countries if they were discreet. It is a matter of massive regret to me that the Liberal Democrats in government have not been able to stop the sort of nonsense that took place in that central London courtroom this week or that routinely takes place when LGBT asylum seekers are interviewed. The Home Office playbook reads like a bad 1970s sitcom, but its effects are far from funny.

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BBC Newsnight: ‘Innocent people’ on police photos database

A special BBC Newsnight report says:

Police forces in England and Wales have uploaded up to 18 million “mugshots” to a facial recognition database – despite a court ruling it could be unlawful.

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Asylum system continues to fail LGBT people

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Caroline Pidgeon writes… URGENT! Five minutes of your time could help ensure firearm licence fee changes in 2015

Feeling slightly restless between Christmas and New Year?  Are you one of those people who just can’t keep away from their computer or device? Fed up of the constant emails about sales?!

Well if your answer yes to any of these questions – and the fact that you are even reading this article suggest you might – then I have a suggestion for something to do.

Why not quickly complete a Home Office consultation on the issues of firearm licence fees?

Yes you read that correctly.

The consultation ends at the very end of Monday 29th December (I didn’t set the deadline!) so it really is now or never.

The issue, as I raised back in an article in August, is that the cost of a five-year licence for a firearm, has now been frozen for more than 13 years.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 11 Comments

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