Home office

Why is the Home Office giving in to illiberal youth by banning rappers like Tyler, The Creator?

In a 2012 interview on Newsnight, foul-mouthed LA rapper Tyler, The Creator told a churlish Stephen Smith that the point of his music was to ‘piss old white people off like you’. Now, the old white people at the Home Office seem to have proved him right, by banning the rapper – real name Tyler Okonma – from entering the UK for the next three to five years. Okonma’s manager, Christian Clancy, wrote in a blog post that he received a letter stating that the rapper would not receive a visa because his work ‘encourages violence and intolerance of homosexuality’ and ‘fosters hatred with views that seek to provoke others

Barometer | 13 August 2015

Caught working The government announced a crackdown on illegal workers. How many illegal workers are caught in Britain? — From October to December last year, 716 illegal workers were caught, 337 in London and the south-east. Among those caught were restaurant workers in Chinatown, a takeaway worker in Norwich, a fish-and-chip shop worker in Lincoln and a shopworker with sideline in counterfeit tobacco in the Forest of Dean. — In the four years to 2010, 349 were caught working in government departments, councils and the NHS, including 12 in the Home Office. One was caught after spending 19 months working as a security guard, opening the door for ministers and

Teflon Theresa and outraged Yvette battle over immigration and police cuts

For the longest serving Home Secretary in 50 years, Theresa May’s record in government is not without its blemishes. On this afternoon’s Daily Politics home affairs debate she made a clear recognition of the government’s failure to meet the Conservative manifesto promise to reduce immigration to the ‘tens of thousands’. May said: ‘We’ve accepted that we have failed to meet that particular target… [But] if you say to me, Andrew, that there’s nothing we have done on immigration, then you’re wrong. What we have done is not met that particular target. ‘Net migration from outside the EU is lower than it was in 2010, but one of the reasons is

We need body scanners to tackle the prison drug problem

As every prisoner and ex-prisoner knows the most frequently used route for drug smuggling into all categories of jails is ‘bottling it’. This is the crude but effective smuggling technique of inserting a package of drugs into an inmate’s anus. Unless prison staff receive a tip off that a particular prisoner is acting as ‘a mule’ for this route they will likely avoid detection, as routine anal searching at prison receptions is rare. It is not generally realised how many prisoners have to go in and out of prison during their sentences for court appearances, requisition order hearings, hospital check-ups, legal town visits, or transfers to other establishments. The pushers

The ‘Darknet’ is dangerous. It’s also deeply democratic

The ‘Darknet’ is in the spotlight. Over the past few months, stories of paedophile rings, drug empires and terrorist organisations have set pulses racing as investigative journalists have begun dipping their toes into the network. Cue stories such as: ‘Five scary things ANYONE can buy in the Darknet’s illegal markets‘. Now, the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology have released a briefing. The note, entitled ‘The Darknet and Online Anonymity’, centres on Tor. Tor is an easy-to-use web browser that makes tracking a user’s online activities much more difficult. It is designed to prevent government agencies and big corporations learning your location, your identity and your browsing habits. As well as

Drugs Live drama: Channel 4 vs Home Office

So far Channel 4’s Drugs Live series has examined the effects of ecstasy while next month’s installment will look into cannabis use. However, for those wondering which illicit substance will be next, the programme’s host Dr Christian Jessen is unsure about the show’s future. Speaking to Mr Steerpike at The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel premiere in Leicester Square, Jessen confessed that getting permission from the Home Office for each programme is proving a hard task. ‘We’re slightly limited by whether we can get the Home Office to give us permission because obviously these drugs are illegal so doing experiments on them requires all these complicated licenses. They’re really difficult. I’d like to do something like mushrooms next but it

Why Cabinet Exec won’t ‘poo in the pool’

If you hear any government officials talking about blue rivers in the coming days, it’s down to Google. Steve Vaughan, the head of media monitoring at the Home Office, has just spent a week with Google to develop his digital skills. The reason we know this, is that he has written a government blog about it. In it, Vaughan reveals the 17 things he has learned from the experience. While Steerpike dares not bore you with all the details, Vaughan does urge civil servants to refrain from being a ‘poo in the pool’ and instead try ‘jumping into the pool of creativity,’ as well as urging staff to ‘greenhouse your ideas’. He goes so far as

Five things you need to know about the Lee Rigby report

Could the intelligence services have prevented the murder of Lee Rigby last year? Probably not, but there was more they could have known and possibly done, according to a report from the Intelligence and Security Committee (pdf) out today. While the committee has praised the intelligence services for the work they do, there are criticisms levelled at people both in and out of government. Here’s what you need to know: 1. Although errors were made, Rigby’s murder was unlikely to have been prevented The report credits the intelligence agencies for protecting Britain from a ‘number of terrorist plots in recent years’ — one or two serious plots each year. However, a ‘number of errors’

Don’t blame Theresa May – she did her bit. The problem is immigration from the EU

Theresa May is getting some stick this morning because she has admitted the obvious: that immigration is never going to get below the ‘tens of thousands’ target that David Cameron stupidly agreed to in opposition. She can only control immigration from outside the EU which she has successfully reduced to its lowest levels for about 15 years. But she has been blown off course by immigration not by the Slavs but Western Europe – Italians, Portuguese, Spanish coming here to flee the sclerosis of their debt-addled high-regulation economies and partake in the job-creation miracle underway in Britain. National Insurance registration data indicates that the number of Polish immigrants plunged, while immigration

Home Office questions: It’s all Labour’s fault

A week after uproar in the Commons over the vote on the European Arrest Warrant that was or wasn’t a vote, depending on what you fancied believing, Theresa May faced MPs at Home Office questions where she was rather quickly pulled up on that debacle. Shadow Home Office minister David Hanson asked why the House of Lords did get a vote on the European Arrest Warrant when MPs were denied the opportunity last week. May replied: ‘I have to say to the right honourable gentleman that I was very clear and in fact we spent quite a considerable time last Wednesday discussing the motion that had been brought forward by

Commons uproar: European arrest warrant debate in a ‘total mess’

The government is in a total mess this afternoon. The whole house of Commons has turned on Theresa May and Chris Grayling for the way they have handled the vote on the European arrest warrant. MP after MP is calling, via points of order, for the motion to be withdrawn. The whips are in frantic conversation. Update, 17.26  May is now speaking and she appears to be sticking to her line. I hear that whips are trying to get all of the payroll vote ready to support the business motion that the house will vote on, as there are fears that the government will lose it.

What Norman Baker’s departure tells us about the Coalition – and about Theresa May

What does Norman Baker’s exit from the Home Office tell us about the coalition? In many ways, the situation in that department was quite unlike any other, but if another Lib Dem does fancy going in a blaze of fury, then Justice Minister Simon Hughes was assigned to his department for similar trouble-making reasons, and apparently ranks second in the great league table of problematic coalition relationships. But Norman Baker was sent in to antagonise a Home Secretary notorious for micromanaging ministers from her own party, let alone those from another. As Damian Green pointed out on the Today programme, Baker had told his local paper he was the ‘Lib

Norman Baker quits as a Home Office minister

Norman Baker has resigned as a Home Office minister tonight. Baker has quit, blaming the difficulties of working with Theresa May and the squeeze that ministerial office has put on his time for his decision to go. Baker describes working with May as like ‘walking through mud’.   Baker’s departure is not to be lamented. At the Home Office he has been pushing for the decriminalisation of drugs, a thoroughly dangerous policy that would be disastrous for society. Baker claims that this is evidence-based policy making, and cites the Tories failure to follow this evidence as one of his reasons for quitting. Indeed, his resignation is, in a way, the

Of course marijuana isn’t ‘safe’ – but should it be illegal?

Sometimes I read things that really get on my wick, and last week was one of those times. A new, ‘definitive’ 20-year study has ‘demolished the argument that the drug [cannabis] is safe’, according to the Daily Mail. Has it, though? There are various things wrong with that claim. One, no study is ‘definitive’; two, the research was not a ’20-year study’, but a review of other studies carried out over the last 20 years. There are lots other things wrong with the coverage, too, including the startlingly ridiculous claim that cannabis is ‘as addictive as heroin’. Even according to the research itself, less than one-tenth of people who try

The Home Office acts busy, hoping to avoid a ‘tide of public anger’

Theresa May updated the Cabinet this morning on the inquiry she has launched into how public bodies have dealt with allegations of child abuse. The name of the inquiry panel chair and the terms of reference haven’t yet been announced, but when the Prime Minister’s official spokesman was asked when they might emerge, he said ‘I would expect an announcement on the chair of the panel soon’. Asked to define ‘soon’, the spokesman said ‘pretty soon’, which suggests that we will get more answers either before the Home Office Permanent Secretary Mark Sedwill sits down at 3.15pm to give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee, or that these announcements

Theresa May announces independent inquiry into child abuse allegations

Theresa May has just given as comprehensive a response as possible to the allegations of child abuse in the Commons. Insisting the government will leave no stone unturned in pursuit of the allegations, the Home Secretary told MPs that there will an independent inquiry panel, along the lines of the Hillsborough inquiry, which will examine not just how the Home Office dealt with allegations, but also how the police and prosecutors dealt with information handed to them. As a non-statutory inquiry, it will be able to begin its work sooner and will be at a lower risk of prejudicing criminal investigations because it will begin with a review of documentary

The Snooper’s Charter is back – and Nick Clegg will kill it again

That Theresa May is now making a last-ditch effort to revive the ‘Snooper’s Charter’ should come as no surprise to Coffee House readers: we reported in June 2013 that the Tories were mulling introducing something after the 2014 Budget as the Lib Dems would not be able to retaliate with a mansion tax or other such Lim Demmery. May is unlikely to succeed in doing this, though, as the Lib Dems are quite clear that they won’t roll over on a new Communications Data Bill. But the Home Secretary is clearly trying to make the case for some more legislation in the future – and perhaps she hopes that her

Chairman Vaz’s passport checks

Keith Vaz has a better nose for a story than a lot of journalists: this afternoon he’s organised Home Affairs Select Committee hearings on the passport backlog and on extremism in schools. Passport Office chief Paul Pugh faced a good old headline-worthy grilling on whether or not he would resign as a result of the current backlog, which he confirmed to the committee was ‘just under 480,000’. He said he had considered whether he should resign, but had decided against it. Later Paul Flynn had another go, asking why Pugh had decided to stay. ‘I’m not sure my resignation… how it would help people in any way.’ Flynn argued that

May sends more staff to Passport Office

She might not be worried enough to do anything more than a pooled clip to broadcasters, but Theresa May is clearly sufficiently concerned by the backlog in processing passports to announce the Passport Office will put more staff in place to deal with the backlog. Speaking to reporters this morning, the Home Secretary said: ‘The Passport Office has been putting plans in place since the beginning of this year when they started to see this increase in numbers. They have been increasing the numbers of staff, they’re now open, the Passport Office is working, from 7am to midnight. We’re seeing them working longer hours, more days of the week. But

Isabel Hardman

Is Theresa May worried by passport backlog?

Theresa May hardly needs another row this week after losing one of her special advisers as a result of last week’s bust-up. But the occupational hazard of running the Home Office is that one of its agencies can suddenly spin out of control, and you’re the one left trying to end the chaos. The Passport Office is always a prime candidate for this sort of trouble, not least because its operations are the kind of things that, when they go wrong, can really upset voters. Not much point in pontificating from the dispatch box about budgets for hardworking families when they find they can’t take the holidays they’ve been working