|KHAT, a controlled Class C drug from 24 June. |
Khat is banned under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
A flurry of activity from the UK Home Office this month, links to the orginal full documents at the end of the blog.
Serious Crime Bill
The Serious Crime Bill introduced in the House of Lords on 5 June, and was given a Second Reading in the Lords on 16 June.
The bill implements proposals in the serious and organised crime strategy to provide the National Crime Agency, police forces and other law enforcement agencies with the powers they need to pursue, disrupt and bring to justice those engaged in serious and organised crime.
The bill includes measures to improve the ability to recover criminal assets by:
- amending the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
- amending the Computer Misuse Act 1990 to ensure sentences for attacks on computer systems fully reflect the damage they cause
- creating a new offence targeting people who knowingly participate in an organised crime group; and establishes new powers to seize, detain and destroy substances suspected of being used as cutting agents for illegal drugs
Local action against serious and organised crimeOn 14 July, Mike Barton (Chief Constable, Durham Constabulary) co-hosts a regional workshop to promote the serious and organised crime strategy and, in particular, local multi-agency working.
So far over 700 partners have participated in the workshops including representatives from over 150 local authorities, 24 police and crime commissioners and 46 prisons.
If you would like further details about this work, please contact Faye Johnson or Keri at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ending gang and youth violence conferenceThe Home Secretary outlined the government’s continued support for local areas in driving down violence, at the Ending gang and youth volence national conference, held on 11 June.
Speeches given at the event, stressed the importance of local partners working together on these issues effectively. The conference brought together a wide range of professionals from the police, local authorities and the voluntary and community sector to discuss what more can be done to combat gang and youth violence.
Issues raised included the role of gangs in the sexual exploitation of girls and young women and the involvement of street gangs in the supply of drugs across the country.
Speakers included Carlene Firmin MBE, Head of the MsUnderstood Partnership at the University of Bedfordshire, on how to protect women and girls affected by gangs, and Carey Oppenheim, the Chief Executive of the Early Intervention Foundation, on the importance of intervening early to break intergenerational cycles of violence, and the support the Foundation will offer to local areas in the third year of the programme.
It was also also announced that practical support from the Home Office frontline team will be extended to a further ten areas this year.
Tougher Police procurementThe National Audit Office, the Public Accounts Committee, and the Home Affairs Select Committee have recommended that the Home Office work more closely with the police. A programme has been established to:
- improve the evidence for collaborative procurement
- improve management information for PCCs and police on procurement spend
- support the implementation of the NPPH - an electronic marketplace, similar in style to Amazon, which will enable police forces to purchase a wide range of goods and services
- extend procurement collaboration to the wider law enforcement community where there are common requirements and potential benefits of scale. UK Border Force and Immigration Enforcement will be included and the National Crime Agency, Police Scotland and Police Service of Northern Ireland have also been invited to participate
Consultation launched on riot damages
For over 120 years compensation has been paid to those who have suffered property damage or losses in riots through the provisions set out in the Riot (Damages) Act 1886. Following the riots during the summer of 2011 it became clear that the Act was out of date and lacked clarity.
The Home Office has worked with industry experts and stakeholders to develop an understanding of the issues and agree some basic principles for a new Act.
Damian Green launched a public consultation on 5 June setting out the proposals for reform. This closes on 1 August after which the aim is to submit a draft bill for pre-legislative scrutiny in late October.
Mental Health Crisis Care ConcordatThe Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat is an agreement between 22 national signatories including the police, social services, NHS England, Mind, and local and national government, which aims to ensure that anyone experiencing a mental health crisis will be kept safe and helped to find the support they need, whatever the circumstances in which they first need help.
Mind has been chosen to help to promote the Concordat at a local level and help local services set up their own local crisis care declarations. There are a number of events from July which are free to attend, to aid areas who are interested.
Control of khatKhat became a controlled Class C drug on 24 June. Khat is banned under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to address the following issues:
- the community concerns on the health and social harms of khat use in the UK
- the risk of the UK becoming a single, regional khat smuggling hub for onward trafficking to countries where it is banned – especially after the Dutch ban came into force in January 2013
Khat use is mainly associated with Somali and Yemeni communities in the UK. Govenrment needed to ensure that the policing response to possession offences (for personal use) would be proportionate and sensitive. It introduces ‘khat warnings’ to deal with the first such offence and £60 Penalty Notices for Disorder the second time.
Further possession offences will likely lead to arrest for possession of a controlled Class C drug and further action (this approach is similar to cannabis – separate national policing guidance on khat has been issued).
Khat fact sheets on the benefits of the khat ban, penalties and access to support were also made available in Amharic, Arabic, English, Somali and Swahili for partners to use and communicate to the relevant communities.
Further information can also be seen on amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, or email Cyrille.Marcel2@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.
Crimestoppers commercial cannabis campaignThe Home Office is working with Crimestoppers and 17 participating forces to improve public reporting of commercial cannabis cultivation with links to serious organised crime in key problem areas.
Scratch and sniff cards will be posted through letterboxes of houses in areas where the police have intelligence of cannabis cultivation or where police know that cannabis cultivation is driving crime levels.
Campaign to combat female genital mutilationThe Home Office has secured £250,000 from the European Union PROGRESS fund to combat female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK.
FGM is an unacceptable form of abuse and violence against girls and women, and the government is absolutely committed to preventing and combatting FGM. Part of this fund is being used to run a marketing campaign to raise awareness of FGM within the UK. The campaign launched on 2 June and activity will run until the end of August 2014.
The aim is to raise awareness of FGM and signpost the NSPCC FGM helpline (0800 028 3550) and NSPCC FGM website as a place to seek advice, support and information on FGM from trained professionals.
It will also encourage people to report suspected cases of FGM. The campaign is aimed at mothers and carers of girls at risk of FGM, professionals (eg. doctors, teachers and midwives) and the wider communities, including first generation elders.
You can also help support the campaign by tweeting the campaign with @NSPCC, which calls on mothers and carers to #endFGM. Home Office FGM campaign news story refers.
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