By Tim Montgomerie
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Sir Andrew Green of MigrationWatch said:
"The asylum system has proved to be a £10 billion shambles. Those who, like ourselves, are serious about protecting genuine refugees should be no less serious about removing bogus claimants and, better still, deterring them in the first place... It also needed to be much tougher on the bogus. It is absurd, for example, that we should allow people who have been in Britain illegally for years to claim asylum so as to delay or prevent their removal; this now applies to almost 60% of claimants."
Responding to the report, Damian Green, Immigration Minister, told the Daily Mail:
"The system we inherited was hopelessly chaotic and did not provide the taxpayer with value for money. Last year, we reduced the bill for asylum support by over £100million and it is falling further this year. We have nearly doubled the proportion of asylum-seekers removed within a year of their application and around 60 per cent of applicants receive a decision within a month."
> Download a PDF of Migrationwatch's full report.
Alexandra Crossley of the Centre for Social Justice recommends action against gangs in the fourth part of our series on lifting young people off the conveyor belt to crime. Previous entries have looked at early intervention, family and parenting and community policing.
The involvement of street gangs in the violence and criminality that exploded onto our streets last week comes as no surprise to those working in Britain’s most deprived neighbourhoods. Over the past ten years, an undercurrent of gang culture has been simmering beneath the surface of mainstream society.
Central and local government action to tackle this problem has been inadequate and as a result, street gangs have become a way of life for thousands of young people. Worse still, lives have been tragically lost.
Inaction cannot be blamed on confusion. We know what factors drive gang involvement. Family breakdown, in particular fatherlessness, is at the heart of the problem: the gang gives young people in our most deprived communities a sense of belonging and safety, where a family does not. Similarly, for young people growing up in neighbourhoods with worklessness and dependency, educational failure and a poverty of aspiration, the gang offers a way out. It can offer a lucrative alternative to mainstream employment (some gang members earn £1,000 a week at age 14) as well as status and power. For many, gangs have the answer to the ills of society’s most disenfranchised and deprived young people.
This is the third in a series of articles examining the conveyor belt to crime. Previous contributions have looked at the importance of early intervention and supporting families. Today, Blair Gibbs of Policy Exchange looks at policing.
Debate around police tactics during the riots has stoked interest in policing philosophies and the merits or otherwise of ‘community policing’. The Prime Minister’s use of the phrase ‘zero tolerance’ distracts from this, and should only be taken as a signal of the legitimate public desire for a firm response by the wider criminal justice system to the serious criminality that occurred.
‘Zero tolerance’ is not the same as ‘community policing’ and it is a mistake to conflate them. As Bill Bratton - the greatest police leader of his generation - has argued, ‘zero tolerance’ is a crude misrepresentation of the policing philosophy he advocated. Bratton’s success in New York, not to mention much more success with far fewer resources while he was chief in Los Angeles (2002-2009), did not come from ‘zero tolerance’. That is never sensible or practically possible. It implies mass arrests for all minor offences and the total absence of proportionality and officer discretion.
What really happened in New York was a change of leadership which drove a change of organisational culture, and with that, came a change of tactics on the ground. Local commanders took control, were held accountable for crime, and whilst arrests went up, that was a product of a more proactive, disruptive policing approach – not an objective. More important was the application of a new philosophy of community policing, that changed the way the police saw their role.
During the last general election, the TaxPayers' Alliance published a manifesto, setting out objectives for this Parliament. Today, the TPA published its assessment of the Coalition's progress so far. The new report assigns scores out of five (with five meaning the objective has been satisfied, or there are plans to satisfy it, and zero meaning no progress has been made).
The report finds that in every area, there is progress towards achieving some objectives, but progress is lacking in others:
Matthew Sinclair, Director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:
"Early on the Government made some excellent progress cutting some wasteful spending and opening up the public sector so taxpayers could see how their money is spent. Since then there has been further progress in some areas like strengthening Freedom of Information. Exciting reforms that will deliver better value from welfare, education and police spending have made progress. But in too many other fields, like tax reform and abolishing useless quangos, the rhetoric hasn’t been matched by the policy delivered. With expensive commitments like increasing international development and the high speed rail white elephant, families will see more of their money wasted. The TaxPayers' Alliance will continue fighting to defend the interests of ordinary taxpayers and campaigning on the priorities we set out before the election."
The full report can be read here (pdf).
The civil liberties campaign group, Big Brother Watch, has also produced an anniversary report, assessing the Coalition's progress on that front. Some key points:
The full report can be read here (pdf).
In today's Sunday Telegraph I ask the question: Is it safe to send fewer people to jail? The answer is no.
Earlier this week Civitas released a short report rebutting Ken Clarke's claim that crime has fallen throughout the world, whatever the prison population. In fact the evidence shows that "significant reductions in prison populations tend to be associated with spikes in crime rates". The graphs tell the story:
More at Civitas.
By Tim Montgomerie
Control Orders were introduced by the last government to impose various restrictions on people who are suspected of terrorist connections. One of the reasons why the individuals cannot be deported, which is the usual remedy for such individuals, is the fear that they may be tortured in their countries of origin.
A new report from the Centre for Social Cohesion, written by Robin Simcox, lists some of the people who have been subject to COs:
A PDF of his full report is here.
In today's Times (£) Rachel Sylvester identifies the issue as a source of tension between the Coalition partners:
"The spooks and the cops are unwilling to see detention without trial brought down to 14 days. They are opposed to the idea that control orders should be scrapped. David Cameron — a more paternalist Tory than civil libertarians such as David Davis — may be unwilling to overrule his security experts, who are warning that to take a more liberal approach could make a terrorist attack in Britain more likely. But if he insists on retaining Labour’s controversial measures that would put him on a direct collision course with Nick Clegg on an issue of symbolic importance for the coalition. “These are big battles,” says one insider."
A New Inquisition: religious persecution in Britain today is a new Civitas report written by the former Head of Religious Studies at the University of Newcastle. The report warns that the increasing volume and complexity of 'hate' legislation is making it dangerous for people to discuss religion in the way they once did.
The volume of legislation: "There are now more than 35 Acts of Parliament, 52 Statutory Instruments, 13 Codes of Practice, 3 Codes of Guidance and 16 European Commission Directives which bear on 'discrimination'. And most recently, the Single Equality Act was passed by Parliament in April 2010. Yet legal definitions of 'hatred' are elusive. A government action plan states: 'A (religious) hate crime is a criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a persons religion or perceived religion.'. In addition, 'hatred' is not only presented as an offence on its own account, but can also be seen as something which aggravates ordinary public order offences. When an ordinary offence is aggravated by 'hatred' based on race, religion, gender, or age, then the sentence too is 'aggravated' (i.e. increased)."
Burden of proof reversed: "To demonstrate the oppressive oddity of judicial attempts to regulate religious hatred, Jon Davies describes the 2009 case of Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang, owners of the Bounty House Hotel in Liverpool. Following a discussion between the Vogelenzangs and a guest at their hotel, Mrs Erica Tazi, about the respective merits of her religion (Islam) and theirs (Christianity), Mrs Tazi made a formal complaint to the Merseyside police about what she said were offensive remarks made by the Vogelenzangs... whilst by long-established practice the Vogelenzangs should have been regarded as innocent until proven guilty: '[There was a] public presumption of culpability... the local NHS authority [which provided 80 per cent of the Bounty House income] cancelled their bookings'."
Free conversation about religion is discouraged: "When Judge Richard Clancy dismissed the case against the Vogelenzangs in December 2009, he commented that it might be best for individuals not to engage in discussions about religion! ...It becomes "wise" to "be careful", to restrict the compass of what we say about what we believe, or do not believe, or about what others believe or do not or should not believe, and to turn what were once vigorous public conversations into a frightened, if safe, if amiable and fundamentally humourless chat about small and dwindling things."
Civil society once regulated differences of opinion: "Throughout most of human history the suppression of unwelcome opinions has been the norm. Therefore, open societies in which we try to settle our differences without violence have been a great human achievement. For some centuries we in this country have been accustomed to dealing with such matters 'amongst ourselves', in a public sphere regulated by our own good sense and law legitimised by general consent and softened by a live-and-let-live ethos."
Two days before the fifth anniversary of the 7/7 bombings, a new report from the Centre for Social Cohesion, Islamist Terrorism: The British Connections, states that the majority of terrorist-related activity in the UK over the last ten years has been home-grown. Sky News reports:
"The Centre for Social Cohesion found that 69% of such incidents between 1999 and 2009 were carried out by British citizens. The research also suggests that seven of the UK's eight major bomb plot cells contained individuals with direct links to al Qaeda... A number of British Muslims have been convicted in foreign courts or have fought for, or trained with, terrorist or extremist Islamist groups abroad, the report outlines."
Douglas Murray, Director of the CSC, told The Telegraph: “The report proves how great a threat violent Islamism poses to the world – and the fact that Britain is at the centre of this global struggle.”
Last week Met Assistant Commissioner John Yates warned that Britain could not afford to cut its anti-terrorist policing. Yates said that the al Qaida threat remained "severe", was constantly mutating and vigilance was needed now as part of protecting the 2012 Olympics. Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude accused Mr Yates of "shroud-waving" and "alarmism".
As already discussed by Max Chambers on CentreRight, Policy Exchange has published a report that finds that "one in six prisoners at any one time is receiving daily doses of a heroin substitute medicine." That is equivalent to "an estimated 73,000 prisoners over the course of a year whose drug habits are effectively being maintained by the state."
Over the years argues the report - Coming Clean - drug substitution programmes have ceased to be temporary instruments for transitioning prisoners off their habits and have become permanent. One side-effect of the scale of in-prison drug medication has been the creation of a new trade of methadone and similar drugs among prisoners.
The PX report argues that "longer-term prisoners should not merely be ‘encouraged’ to become drug-free during their sentence; it should be expected of them and be a condition of parole."
The situation is complicated by a 2006 court ruling that short-term detoxification could amount to "inhuman or degrading treatment".
Author: Migration Watch
Publication Date: November 2009
The report is highly critical of the idea of an amnesty of illegal immigrants which has been supported by Boris Johnson among others. The report argues that an amnesty will encourage further illegal immigration and will increase the risk of fraud. Furthermore an amnesty will increase the strain on social housing and create societal problems.