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Sunday, July 18, 2021

The missing evidence in crackdown on protests and asylum seekers

I think we were all aware that Boris Johnson's government had abandoned evidence-based policy making some time ago, preferring instead for their legislation to pander to various minority elements and prejudices as part of their war in 'woke' culture. It comes as no surprise therefore, that the Home Secretary has been caught out doing precisely that.

The Observer reports that Priti Patel is under fresh pressure after she appears to have misled parliament on proposed powers to crack down on protests and, separately, issued a statement on her asylum bill that does not seem to be supported by evidence.

They add that both interventions from the home secretary were used to justify some of the most controversial aspects of her bills on policing and the asylum system, which have both been criticised as either undemocratic or cruel:

During a 15 March parliamentary debate on the contentious police, crime, sentencing and courts bill, Patel said she had worked closely with the Police Federation, which represents the interests of 130,000 officers, when drafting the legislative proposal.

“We ask our brave police officers to do the most difficult of jobs … and that is why I have worked closely with the Police Federation in developing this bill,” she told the Commons.

However, a freedom of information (FoI) response reveals she did not consult the federation on the most controversial aspect of the bill – plans to limit protest – which have triggered demonstrations across the UK.

The federation’s response states: “We did not provide a written submission nor were we consulted on issues of protest-related legislation.”

Patel is also facing further questions over attempts to justify her nationality and borders bill, which has been criticised for excessive cruelty to asylum seekers and will reduce support for victims of human trafficking.

On 20 March the Home Office issued a statement claiming an “alarming rise in people abusing our modern slavery system by posing as victims in order to prevent their removal and enable them stay in the country”. The official statement, initially leaked to the Sun, was supported by a quote from Patel that said: “Our generous safeguards for victims are being rampantly abused by child rapists, people who pose a threat to national security and failed asylum seekers with no right to be here.”

Her comments were used to help push for sweeping changes to the system for identifying and protecting victims of trafficking.

Yet an FoI response to queries by ECPAT UK reveals that the Home Office’s modern slavery unit could not provide data for child rapists, national security threats or failed asylum seekers referred into the modern slavery system since 2017. The response clarifies that it would need to trawl case files to compile the data, suggesting a lack of existing data for the claims made by Patel and the Home Office.

Patricia Durr, ECPAT UK’s chief executive, said: “It is shocking to have to rely on an FoI request to get to the truth behind a policy that will impact over 10,000 potential victims identified last year alone – the majority British nationals.

“Many provisions are unnecessary, cruel and clearly baseless. There are serious questions to be asked about the evidence basis for measures in a bill that is biggest setback in recent history on survivors of trafficking.”

This government is beginning to look more and more like an embryonic dictatorship with each passing day.
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