Home office

Home Office’s bizarre diversity drive

Having failed to muster enough support for a leadership bid, Priti Patel is currently enjoying what are likely to be her final weeks in charge at the Home Office. The Witham MP has held the post for more than three years but despite her reputation as a hang ’em and flog ’em hardliner, there’s precious little sign she’s been able to change the prevailing culture in her department. Leaked messages in June showed the extent of internal opposition to Patel’s flagship Rwanda scheme. ‘Trans inclusive sports day’ are still being held and there’s a strong push for ‘preferred pronouns.’ And now Mr S has discovered the latest woke quackery being

Home Office splash out on migrant measures

Migration was the dominant theme of the weekend as the two Tory leadership contenders set out how they will resolve the small boats crisis. Both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have pledged to retain Boris Johnson’s Rwanda scheme, even though Kigali claims to, er, only have a capacity for a maximum of 200 migrants from the UK. There’s no doubt the issue is of concern to Tory MPs and activists and it’s not hard to see why: perusing newly published accounts by the Home Office, Mr S found that in May of this year some £5.6 million was spent on contracting out services to charity Migrant Help. It was part

Why the Met Police keeps failing

Much has been made of the decision to place the Metropolitan Police in what is often referred to as special measures, where it joins five other forces from England and Wales. The many ways in which the Met has fallen short have also been amply aired, from the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer to the botched investigation of serial killer Stephen Port, to the racist and sexist mindset laid bare at some London police stations. Many crime rates in the capital have been rising sharply, as – naturally – has public dissatisfaction. Nor should the blame game that has broken out between the Home Office and the

What’s wrong with the Rwanda plan?

There are many unanswered questions about the government’s new policy of compelled expulsion to Rwanda of uninvited asylum claimants. Here are just a few. 1) What is the estimated cost per expelled refugee? None of the briefings give a clue. In its absence, how can the policy be assessed for its value for money, compared with the status quo? 2) What is the UK’s responsibility – moral, legal – if bad things (illness, accident, attack) happen to the expelled refugees after arrival in Rwanda? This would be a concern even if Rwanda did not have a recent history of trampling on civil liberties and basic human rights (see this report from


Home Office minister blindsided by Rwanda

The issue of Channel migrant crossings has been rumbling on for several years. But now, hundreds of small boats and thousands of asylum-seekers later, the Home Office claims to have the solution at last: send them to Rwanda. Home Secretary Priti Patel is in the African nation to sign a deal for a £120 million trial involving mostly single men arriving in Britain via crossings.  Under the proposal, Rwanda would take responsibility for them, put them through an asylum process, and at the end of that process, if they are successful, they will have long-term accommodation in Rwanda. The announcement has sparked something of a predictable backlash from the Tories’ political

Priti’s battle against tech giants backfires

Priti Patel is not a fan of big tech. The Home Secretary has spent much of her three years in office decrying the giants of Silicon Valley, frequently railing against the likes of Facebook, TikTok and Twitter for various failings. She’s ordered them to remove posts promoting illegal Channel crossings, ‘live up to their moral duty’ by tackling online child abuse and attacked them for publishing ‘appalling hate’ on their platforms. Her department has also mooted banning online anonymity and proposed an advertising campaign which criticises Facebook for daring to use end-to-end encryption for its messages. Given all the dastardly things which occur on their platforms, just who exactly is funding such firms? Turns out the answer

Is it time to break up the Home Office?

When was the last time the Home Office produced some good news? Even in the middle of a crisis that most will concede the government has handled quite well, the department has managed to generate the usual abysmal headlines. Even the Foreign Office, slow as it was in cracking down on Russian oligarchs, couldn’t steal the limelight. There may perhaps be a narrow defence to be made over particular policies. Sources in the department point out that the Ukrainian government would prefer refugees to remain in neighbouring countries than come all the way to Britain. But take a step back and such arguments start to look ridiculous. Britain wouldn’t have

Why is Britain so useless at helping Ukrainian refugees?

Some MPs were in tears yesterday when President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the House of Commons, and understandably so, given the soaring rhetoric and bravery of a man who knows his days on earth could be numbered.  One kind interpretation is that the caseworkers at the Home Office haven’t been trained sufficiently for them to use the initiative But across Westminster over the past few days, MPs and their constituency teams have also been crying tears of frustration at the Home Office’s handling of the visa application process. Not only has there been intense confusion between the different arms of government about how many routes there are for refugees – with

Priti’s failed crackdown on foreign criminals

Priti Patel likes to talk a good game on foreign crooks. In numerous tweets and briefings, she’s railed against those who ‘poison our communities, ruin lives and cash in on vulnerable people,’ as part of the Witham MP’s war on crime. But when it comes to deporting those convicted of crimes, it seems that the Home Secretary’s record doesn’t exactly match up to her rhetoric, judging by new figures obtained by Mr S. For the number of serious offenders being deported from Britain has dropped by 65 per cent over the past five years – despite Patel’s promises of a ‘crackdown’ to overhaul the legal system.  Home Office statistics obtained under the Freedom of

Why the Channel migrant crisis is spooking Boris

The Tory position in the polls is weakening. Partly this is because of the vaccine bounce wearing off and a fortnight or so of sleaze stories. But, as I write in the Times today, ministers thinks that there’s another issue harming the government: small boats. ‘The sleaze is bad, but the issue that causes me most trouble with my constituents is the boats,’ says one cabinet member. Johnson himself has long been concerned about this problem. He worries about the sense of disorder that the small boats convey: he thinks they make a mockery of ‘taking back control’ of the borders. A long-serving No. 10 aide says that ‘other than Covid, no issue

Home Office in drug crackdown hypocrisy

Since being appointed to the post of Home Secretary, Priti Patel has made her distaste for drugs clear. During the past two years the Witham MP has accompanied police on house raids, deported foreign dealers, declared war on ‘county lines’ gangs and threatened ‘tough action’ on laughing gas.  There have been repeated departmental briefings to newspapers about crackdowns on ‘middle class drug-users,’ with Patel herself telling broadcasters that ‘there’s no such thing as dabbling in drugs, these are serious offences’ – a statement which presumably caused some discomfort among certain ministerial colleagues. Her rapturously received address to the Tory faithful on Tuesday highlighted the Home Office’s anti-drugs crusade once again. Patel railed against narcotics for being ‘responsible for the

Priti Patel strikes a bullish tone

The theme of Priti Patel’s party conference speech this afternoon was very much ‘large and in charge’. She devoted much of her address to talking about the immigration system, as you’d expect, promising stronger crackdowns on people being smuggled across the Channel in boats. Patel focused on the Vote Leave favourite: taking back control Whereas Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have talked about Britain ‘voting for change’ in 2016, Patel focused on the Vote Leave favourite: taking back control. She told the conference hall this was the key theme of her reforms to immigration, saying: ‘My new plan for immigration is already making its way through parliament. At the heart of

Patrick O'Flynn

The powerlessness of Priti Patel

It is hard not to feel sorry for Priti Patel. She would surely have been a Tory conference darling at the gathering that never happened back in autumn 2020 at the height of the pandemic. Back then she always came towards the top of cabinet ministers’ popularity in the monthly survey conducted by the Conservative Home website. But this year the Home Secretary’s ratings have dropped like a stone. She currently sits in 29th place, staring up in envy at such magnetic figures as Alok Sharma and Alister Jack and without even the comfort of knowing that there is always Gavin Williamson to look down on. In the mini-hall being used

Priti Patel’s war on encryption is doomed

The modern world has an unfortunate habit of making life difficult for those working to keep us safe. For the police, security services and others, so many inventions seem to be created just to make it more difficult for them to see who’s up to no good.  Take envelopes, for one. Envelopes make it much fiddlier to see what’s in the letters we send to one another – and they could show anything: that envelope could contain financial fraud, revenge porn, or even be plotting a murder. What is it hiding? Modern Britain is unreasonable to state snoopers in so many other ways too. Inconsiderately we put locks on our

Victims of grooming gangs have been failed again

The Home Office’s report into the characteristics of group-based child sexual exploitation was keenly awaited by victims of grooming gangs. Sadly, for many of these people, it has left them disappointed.  When Sajid Javid commissioned the review he promised there would be ‘no no-go areas of inquiry’. His successor as Home Secretary, Priti Patel, says in the report itself that ‘victims and survivors of these abhorrent crimes have told me how they were let down by the state in the name of political correctness. What happened to these children remains one of the biggest stains on our country’s conscience.’  But victims I’ve spoken to suggest political correctness remains an issue. The report, they say, obfuscates

The Home Office’s grooming report is an exercise in obfuscation

That the Home Office compiled a report on the political hot potato of child grooming gangs and then actually published it represents progress of a sort. Were you especially charitably disposed towards the department, you could call to mind Dr Johnson talking about the feat of a dog walking on its hind legs: ‘It is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all.’ So credit is due to Home Secretary Priti Patel for doggedly battling to ensure that ‘Group-based Child Sexual Exploitation – Characteristics of Offending’ ever saw the light of day. But when it comes to expecting her civil servants to answer the question

A defence of Priti Patel

Claims that Priti Patel broke the Ministerial Code and the resulting furore have exposed one of the greatest problems facing modern politics. No, not the widespread bullying of civil servants by ministers. But rather a systematic breakdown in the effectiveness of the fundamental ideals of liberal democracies. We politicians have for years increasingly outsourced political power to various incarnations of an unelected establishment: civil servants, bureaucrats, experts, committees and quangos. In so doing, we are giving away something that is not ours to give, effectively disenfranchising the voters.  Political power is owned by the electorate and only lent to their representatives for a few years at a time. Yet to an ever

Priti Patel: I will not take lectures from Labour on racism

Priti Patel was in the Commons today, to be asked about the policing of the recent Black Lives Matter protests across the country. And, it was an understatement to say that the Home Secretary was taking no prisoners when it came to accusations from Labour that she or the government did not understand racism in this country. In response to Labour MP Florence Eshalomi – who asked whether the government and the Home Secretary recognised that there is racism and discrimination in the UK – Patel gave a remarkable speech in which she declared that she would ‘not take lectures’ from Labour about racism, and accused those who expect ethnic minorities to behave

Why the Home Office should publish its grooming gang research

When Sajid Javid, as Home Secretary, launched a review into the characteristics of ‘Asian’ grooming gangs in 2018 and boldly declared there would be ‘no no-go areas of inquiry’, many hoped that we’d finally begin to understand this national scandal. We would find out why men involved in street-based sex grooming gangs are so wicked, and why they often seem to target vulnerable white working-class girls. Is it racially or religiously motivated crime, as indicated by some judges – and increasingly highlighted by victims themselves? Or are there other associated factors, such as the night-time economy? Of course – as journalists who write about this emotive and difficult subject well

The Tories cannot afford a war with the civil service

Thirteen years ago, when John Reid became Home Secretary, he declared the ministry he presided over ‘not fit for purpose’. He was talking about border control but he might well have been referring to the department in general. When Theresa May became PM, things at the Home Office went from bad to worse. Her paranoid style as PM, developed as a survival mechanism when she was Home Secretary, was disastrous. The Windrush debacle, the most shameful example of government dysfunction in recent times, was a sign that change was long overdue. And yet this chaotic department, riven with internal feuds and a lack of accountability, now has a gargantuan task