Home Office: We have the technology but will it cost $6m dollars per employee? - A new policy document - Building on Progress: Security, Crime and Justice - looks at how new technology, powers, service structures and ways of fighting offending will hopefully help the Home Office keep pace with an ever changing society. It aims to ensure victims & communities feel more secure while justice is effectively & efficiently done and seen to be done by looking at three themes:

  • Prevention of crime: Proposals look at identifying & intervening with at-risk children as early as possible, targeting & gripping the most prolific offenders and designing out crime
  • Detection and enforcement: The need to ensure the police, courts & CPS can punish crimes & enforce sentences as rapidly as possible and that they have all the powers they need to seize criminal assets and punish breach of probation orders.
  • Reforming the criminal justice system: Making it work for the law abiding citizen by ensuring it is responsive to local people.

Among the measures being announced the Government will undertake a review of the Police Service, which will look into four key issues:

  • Reducing bureaucracy & promote better business processes
  • Sustaining the progress that has been made on neighbourhood policing
  • Ensuring that the public are driving local policing priorities and improve local involvement & accountability
  • Managing resources effectively to deliver on the tough challenges of the coming years

The prolific offender case management programme will also be expanded to tackle the 5,000 offenders who are responsible for one crime in ten.
Press release ~ Building on Progress: Security, Crime and Justice (3Mb) ~ NAO Report on Asset Recovery Agency ~ Asset Recovery Agency ~ National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) ~ Written Ministerial Statement on proposals to merge ARA with SOCA and the NPIA ~ Impact Assessment of the Prolific and other Priority Offender Programme ~ Other related documents (scroll down) ~ Prolific and other Priority Offender Strategy ~ Ten years of criminal justice under Labour: An independent audit (1.8Mb) ~ Community Impact Statements ~ Community justice courts ~ Respect website ~ National Criminal Justice Board ~ National Offender Management Service ~ Supporting Magistrates to Provide Justice ~ Consultation: Making Sentencing Clearer ~ CJS Review: Rebalancing the criminal justice system in favour of the law-abiding majority ~ CJS Online ~ Sentencing Guidelines Council

DWP: Oliver Twist looks no nearer to being rescued from the Poor-house - 'Working for Children' sets out how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will help parents to lift themselves and their children out of poverty through employment. It was published alongside the Households Below Average Income figures for 2005/2006, which showed a rise in the number of children in relative poverty of 100,000 from 2004/2005 to 2005/2006.

In March 1999, the Prime Minister pledged to eradicate child poverty within a generation. This pledge was underpinned by ambitious targets - to reduce child poverty by a quarter by 2004/05, by a half by 2010/11 and to eradicate it by 2020. The Government missed the 2004/05 target.

'Working for Children' is intended to ‘refocus’ £150 million of resources within the DWP towards greater support for families, by:

  • Piloting a 'New Deal for Families' approach so more families get access to support that is often only available for lone parents.
  • Extending the New Deal for Lone Parents Plus scheme to help more lone parents benefit from this service and signalling initial support, ahead of a period of consultation, for recommendations from David Freud to increase obligations on lone parents with older children to look for work
  • Widening & improving the in-work credit scheme which provides additional financial support for lone parents as they make the transition to work
  • Changing Jobcentre Plus systems so parents are properly identified in the benefit system for the first time and recording the childcare needs & preferences of all parents - not just lone parents as at present
  • Providing advice & support for the partners of parents claiming Jobseekers Allowance, with the introduction of mandatory six-monthly work-focused interviews for this group

Press release ~ 'Working for Children' – Child Poverty Strategy ~ Executive summary ~ Delivering on Child Poverty: what would it take? ~ New Deal for Lone Parents Plus scheme ~ New Deal for Employers ~ David Freud: Reducing dependency, increasing opportunity: options for the future of welfare to work ~ White Paper: A new system of child maintenance ~ Sir David Henshaw's report ~ Local Employment Strategies and Welfare Reform 2006 ~ Work Related Activity Premium (WRAP) ~ Work Focused Interviews and lone parent initiatives: further analysis of policies and pilots ~ Lone parents and work: developing new survey measures of the choices and constraints ~ Helping Lone Parents ~ Green paper - A new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work ~ Report: What will it take to end child poverty? Firing on all cylinders ~ Summary of findings ~ A series of background papers on child poverty ~ Micro-simulating child poverty in 2010 and 2020 ~ Five case studies ~ End Child Poverty coalition

Home Office: A never ending problem! - More people will face checks before entering the with the introduction of a US-style visa waiver programme that the Government claims will create a strengthened border control by screening people even before they get here.

'Securing the Border' also sets out how the will overhaul visitor visas, including:

  • consulting on ‘tougher’ sanctions for sponsors of family visas
  • consulting on requiring English for spouses,
  • as well as installing technology at ports to record biometrics of non-EEA citizens without visas

In addition, the Home Office will be setting up the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) which, once up & running, will advise Ministers on where migration might sensibly fill gaps in the labour market.

The government is also establishing a new Migration Impacts Forum (MIF), which will provide information on the wider impacts of migration on local communities and how best to ensure public services can respond & community cohesion retained.
Press release ~ 'Securing the UK Border' - Borders and Visa strategy ~ Borders Action Plan ~ Migration Advisory Committee consultation responses (scroll down) ~ Airline Liaison Officers ~ e-Borders pilot, Project Semaphore ~ Life in the UK test ~ Life in the United Kingdom: A Journey to Citizenship ~ Advisory Board on Naturalisation and Integration (ABNI) ~ DfES: Adult ESOL Core Curriculum ~ Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) – Applying for British nationality ~ IND reform plan: Fair, Effective, Transparent and Trust: Rebuilding Confidence in our Immigration System ~ Command Paper 'A points-based system: making migration work for Britain' ~
Employers' use of migrant labour ~ 5 year strategy: Controlling our borders: making migration work for Britain' ~ Electronic immigration network ~ Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner ~ Asylum and Immigration Tribunal ~ UK Visas – Immigration rules ~ Integration Matters strategy (VL File 2.4Mb) ~ National Asylum Support Service

FDA: Act in haste, regret at leisure? - FDA, the union representing senior public servants, including senior civil servants at the Home Office and Department of Constitutional Affairs, has urged caution at Government plans to create a new Ministry of Justice by 9 May 2007.

FDA head of operations Dave Penman said: “The Government has the right to split the Home Office and the FDA does not believe that departmental boundaries are immutable and should never change. However, we question the wisdom of rushing through such significant machinery of government changes within a matter of weeks.

The FDA says that the changes will impact more than 50,000 staff and that fundamental operational issues, such as differing IT systems & organisational structures, have yet to be considered. Dave Penman continued:

“No private sector company of 50,000 staff would plan to implement a merger within this timeframe, so how can it be suitable for organisations responsible for protection of the public? …………. The assertion that these changes can be implemented within existing resources simply does not reflect the reality of experience with machinery of government changes.
FDA press release ~ FDA (formerly First Division Association)~ Reforming the Home Office

DH: Will change in accounting rules be in time to stop cuts before local elections? - The NHS is set to move to a more transparent & fair financial regime following the announcement of the reversal of RAB deductions and the replacement of cash brokerage with a formal system of loans for NHS Trusts.

The move follows recommendations made by the Audit Commission to change the Resources Accounting and Budgeting (RAB) rules for NHS trusts. The Audit Commission said the rules were unfair because of the 'double whammy' effect under which overspending trusts not only had to pay back their debts, but received less income the following year as well.

The Government also announced that it would now allocate the £450m contingency to strategic health authorities (SHAs) on a fair shares basis meaning that the ‘most needy’ areas of the country will receive a larger share of the funding in line with the our needs based resource allocation formula.
Press release ~ Audit Commission - Review of the NHS Financial Management and Accounting Regime ~ Audit Commission comment on decision ~ King's Fund - Change in NHS accounting rules will bring greater transparency

DCA: The price of Freedom (of Information) is worth the cost to public organisations - The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) has announced that there is to be a further opportunity to comment (by 21 June 2007) on the proposals to amend the Freedom of Information (FoI) fee regulations, specifically on whether they should be amended to deal with requests that ‘impose a disproportionate burden on public authority resources’.

The supplementary paper is aimed at members of the public, public authorities, the media and campaign groups with an interest in the proposed changes.

Further comments on the draft regulations contained in the consultation paper of 14 December 2006 have also been welcomed.
Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ ‘Independent’ Review of the impact of the FoI Act ~ DCA – FOI ~ Independent review of the impact of the FoI Act ~ Scottish Executive website for the Freedom of Information Act Scotland 2002 ~ Information Commissioner ~ The Times of reckoning for Brown – Times Online ~ Gloomy predictions that the Chancellor chose to ignore - TimesOnline

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