Daily Archives: 22/10/2014

£850 million spent on managing foreign national offenders in UK during 2013-2014 but Home Office making “slower progress than expected” states NAO

Despite increased resources and the introduction of tougher powers, the Home Office has made “slower progress than expected” in managing foreign national offenders in the UK and in removing them to their home countries.

Today’s report published by the National Audit Office (NAO) highlights the fact that the number of foreign national offenders in prison and the numbers deported from the UK have remained broadly unchanged since 2006.

Across that period, the number of foreign nationals in prison in the UK increased slightly (by 4%) from 10,231 to 10,649 despite a ten-fold rise in the number of Home Office staff working on foreign national offender casework.

In the wake of an initial surge in the numbers removed from 2,856 in 2006-2007 to 5,613 in 2008-2009 (following the problems in 2006 when the Home Office discovered that 1,013 foreign national offenders had been released without being considered for deportation), removal numbers have now declined to 5,097 in 2013-2014.

With regard to prevention and early action, according to the NAO “the Government did relatively little” before December 2012 to tackle the problem of potential foreign national offenders entering the UK. A new 2013 Action Plan focused efforts on this aspect of prevention but, suggests the NAO, it lacks “a structured and informed approach”.

The Home Office is looking at better use of intelligence databases and has changed its immigration rules, but progress in modernising its border information system – designated the Warnings Index – has been slow. Indeed, the NAO estimates that £70 million could be saved every year if all early identification opportunities were duly seized and acted upon.

Despite increased resources and tougher powers, the Home Office has made slower progress than expected in managing foreign national offenders in the UK and in removing them to their home countries

Despite increased resources and tougher powers, the Home Office has made slower progress than expected in managing foreign national offenders in the UK and in removing them to their home countries

Barriers to removal are “considerable”

Today’s NAO report recognises that the barriers to foreign national offender removals are “considerable”. These barriers include foreign national offenders exploiting legal and medical obstacles to their removal. However, the spending watchdog identifies measures and opportunities for making progress which are not being maximised.

An analysis of 1,453 failed removals in 2013-2014 indicates that at least one third might have been avoided through “better co-ordination of the bodies involved” and “fewer administrative errors”.

Following a change of approach from April 2013 onwards, all foreign national offenders are now considered for deportation. This has increased removal numbers from 4,722 in 2012-2013 to 5,097 in 2013-2014.

The time taken to deport foreign national offenders has also reduced from an average of 369 days in 2012-2013 to 319 days come 2013-2014. However, according to the NAO, delays in starting cases and an over-reliance on form-filling mean that there remains “considerable scope” for speeding up the process.

Greater use of early removal schemes could also save money. The NAO estimates that the 37% of foreign national offenders who left as part of the Early Removal Scheme in 2013-2014 saved £27.5 million by reducing the average number of days spent in prison by 146.

The Home Office and the Ministry of Justice do not use cost data to manage foreign national offenders, but the NAO estimates that, during 2013-2014, public bodies spent no less than £850 million on managing and removing these offenders. That figure equates to around £70,000 per offender.

The NAO states that, since 2006, the Home Office has made “limited progress” in removing foreign national offenders who’ve completed their sentences. By the end of March this year, more than one-in-six foreign national offenders living in the community (760, in fact) had absconded. This figure represents a rise of 6% since 2010.

Furthermore, 395 absconders have been missing since before 2010. 58 of them are designated ‘high harm individuals’.

Despite the 2006 crisis, the Home Office did not keep records of foreign national offenders released without consideration for deportation before January 2009. The Department estimates that 151 such offenders have been released without consideration since that point in time.

Amyas Morse: head of the National Audit Office

Amyas Morse: head of the National Audit Office

Commenting on today’s report, Amyas Morse – head of the National Audit Office – stated: “It’s no easy matter to manage foreign national offenders in the UK and to deport those who have completed their sentences. However, too little progress has been made, despite the increased resources and effort devoted to this problem.”

Morse added: “The Government’s focus on preventative measures and early action is promising, but it has only just started to exploit these options. The Government needs to build on the momentum of its recent Action Plan, in particular taking advantage of relatively inexpensive and straightforward opportunities to make progress.”

Foreign national offenders in the UK: the top line statistics

12,250
Foreign national offenders in England and Wales serving in prison and living in the community after prison pending removal action (as at the end of March 2014)

5,100
Foreign national offenders removed from the UK (during 2013-2014)

£850 million
The NAO’s estimate of public spending on managing and removing foreign national offenders (during 2013-2014)

10,650
Foreign nationals in the prison estate in England and Wales as at 31 March 2014 (of whom 2,600 were on remand or not sentenced)

30%
Proportion of arrested foreign nationals on which police carried out an overseas criminal record check through the ACPO Criminal Records Office (2013-2014)

1 in 25
Foreign national offender files arriving at the Home Office to start processing for removal which have sufficient identity documents

139
Number of days (on average) foreign national offenders are removed from the UK after the end of their sentence in 2013-2014

146
Prison days saved (on average) as a result of foreign national offenders being removed as part of early removal schemes in 2013-2014

37%
Proportion of foreign national offenders removed from the UK which were part of early removal schemes (2013-2014)

4,200
Foreign national offenders living in the community pending removal at the end of March 2014

1 in 6
Foreign national offenders living in the community that had absconded at the end of March 2014

151
Departmental estimate of foreign national offenders released from prison without being considered for deportation (January 2009-March 2014)

Comment from the Committee of Public Accounts

The Committee of Public Accounts is appointed by the House of Commons to examine “the accounts showing the appropriation of the sums granted to Parliament to meet the public expenditure, and of such other accounts laid before Parliament as the Committee may think fit”.

Margaret Hodge MP – current chair of the Committee of Public Accounts – has commented on the NAO report.

“The Committee of Public Accounts has said that deporting foreign national offenders would be the best way of reducing the cost of the prison system,” declared Hodge, “and yet the Government’s performance in reducing the number of foreign national prisoners continues to be frustratingly poor. I’m astounded that the number of foreign nationals in prisons has increased to 10,649 since 2006 and that, of those released, 760 currently waiting to be deported have disappeared and around 150 are thought not to have been considered for deportation.”

The MP continued: “It’s appalling that only 30% of potential foreign national offenders in custody were searched on immigration databases to see if they had committed crimes overseas.”

Margaret Hodge MP

Margaret Hodge MP

In addition, Hodge said: “All this is despite the ten-fold increase in the number of officials working to deport foreign national offenders, from fewer than 100 officials to over 900, and an estimated £850 million of taxpayers’ money spent on managing and removing foreign national offenders in 2013-2014. It beggars belief that the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice are managing the removal of foreign national offenders without knowing basic costs and how best to target their resources.”

As far as Hodge is concerned: “Government is not helping itself. The continued use of outdated IT and too much reliance on form-filling means that crucial checks and information gathering are not happening at the right time. Given its poor track record, Government will need to take huge strides in order to improve its management of foreign national offenders through its still-evolving 2013 cross-Government Action Plan.”

Officials from the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice are due to appear before the Committee on 5 November.

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Cyber Streetwise survey reveals 75% of Britons place online safety at risk

A new survey conducted by Cyber Streetwise has revealed that most people are not taking the necessary steps to protect their identity online, with 75% of those who took part in the study admitting they don’t follow Best Practice to create complex passwords.

The figures have been released during Cyber Security Awareness Month to mark the launch of the latest phase of the UK Government’s Cyber Streetwise campaign. In partnership with the police service and industry experts, Cyber Streetwise aims to raise awareness of wise and unwise behaviour in the online space.

Despite 95% of Britons saying it’s their own responsibility to protect themselves online, two thirds are risking their safety by not using symbols in passwords. Nearly half (47%) exhibit other unsafe password habits such as using pet names or significant dates as their password.

Modern Slavery and Organised Crime Minister Karen Bradley MP explained: “When passwords are compromised, financial and banking details can be stolen and cause problems for the person affected, for businesses and for the economy. There’s an emotional impact caused by the loss of irreplaceable photos, videos and personal e-mails, but even worse these can be seized to extort money.”

Bradley added: “We can and must play a role in reducing our risk of falling victim to cyber crime. Most attacks can be prevented by taking some basic security steps, and I encourage everyone to do so.”

Vulnerability to ID theft, fraud and extortion

This latest research shows that 82% of people manage more online accounts that require a password than they did last year, with the average Briton dealing with 19. Over a third (35%) of those questioned admit that they do not create strong passwords because they struggle to recall them. However, poor passwords leave people vulnerable to identity theft, fraud and extortion.

Cyber crime presents a serious threat to the UK and the Government is taking action to increase public awareness of the risk, dedicating £860 million to this issue over the next five years through the National Cyber Security Programme. In essence, the Government is working hard to transform the UK’s response to cyber security.

The latest survey conducted by Cyber Streetwise has revealed that the majority of people are not taking necessary steps to protect their identity online

The latest survey conducted by Cyber Streetwise has revealed that the majority of people are not taking necessary steps to protect their identity online

Jamie Saunders – director of the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) National Cyber Crime Unit – commented: “The NCA is working closely with law enforcement colleagues all over the world to target and disrupt cyber criminals. We should be clear that the criminals will target weaknesses. On that basis, having weak passwords will leave people vulnerable.”

Saunders continued: “Nobody wants their personal financial details, business information or photographs to be stolen or held to ransom, so simple things like using three or more words, a mixture of numbers, letters and symbols and upper and lower case letters will make it much more difficult for hackers to access personal information.”

Creating strong and memorable passwords

Advice on creating strong and memorable passwords can be found at http://www.cyberstreetwise.com along with other easy tips for staying safe online. Tips for creating and remembering passwords include the following:

Loci method
Imagine a familiar scene and place each item that needs to be remembered in a particular location (ie a red rose on the table, a book on the chair, a poster on the wall). Imagine yourself looking around the room in a specific sequence. Re-imagine the scene and the location of each item when you need to remember

Acronyms
Use a phrase or a sentence and take the first letter from that sentence

Narrative methods
Remember a sequence of key words by creating a story and littering it with memorable details (for example, ‘The little girl wore a bright yellow hat as she walked down the narrow street…’)

Further information on Cyber Security Awareness Month is available at: http://www.staysafeonline.org/ncsam/

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South Yorkshire security bosses sentenced for supplying unlicensed officers

On Friday 17 October 2014 at Sheffield Crown Court, two security directors were sentenced for committing 29 private security offences.

Under the company names Dragon Security Solutions and Goodfellas Nightspot Barnsley, the individuals concerned supplied unlicensed security officers to unsuspecting customers across South Yorkshire over a nine-month period. Neither of the directors held Security Industry Authority licences to work in the private security sector.

Ian Lindsay (of Market Street, Rotherham) and Martyn Cook (of Philip Avenue in Nuthall, Nottingham) had pleaded guilty to the offences at Rotherham Magistrates’ Court on 15 July this year.

Last Friday, Lindsay was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment for supplying unlicensed officers and a further four months’ imprisonment for working as an unlicensed director. Both sentences were suspended for two years. Lindsay was also disqualified as a company director for three-and-a-half years.

Cook was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment for supplying unlicensed security officers and two months’ imprisonment for working as an unlicensed director. Again, both sentences were suspended for two years. Cook was ordered to undertake 100 hours of unpaid work and has been disqualified as a company director for three-and-a-half years.

The Court set out a timetable for proceedings against the pair and the companies under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

By law, security operatives working under contract and all door supervisors must hold and display a valid SIA licence card

By law, security operatives working under contract and all door supervisors must hold and display a valid SIA licence card

Operation in respect of the regulatory framework

In sentencing Lindsay and Cook, Recorder Wilby QC said: “The purpose of the regulations is that there is a second line of security to ensure those [frontline operatives] who deal with the public are safe to do so. Following his release from prison, Mr Lindsay started providing security (through Dragon Security). It is inconceivable he could not have recognised the regulatory regime and that he needed a licence.”

Recorder Wilby QC continued: “In relation to Mr Cook, [once he became a director of Dragon Security] he cannot have been ignorant and should have made enquiries into whether he needed a licence.”

Closing the statement, Recorder Wilby QC stated: “The public are entitled to have safety and assurances that those operating such businesses are properly licensed and that they operate the company in respect of the regulatory framework.”

Security Industry Authority (SIA) investigations manager Nathan Salmon explained: “These strong sentences reflect the seriousness of the offending by these two directors. I’m pleased the Court recognises the SIA’s role in protecting the public.”

Salmon added: “Mr Lindsay has been proven to be an unsuitable individual to work within the security industry because of his serious criminal history. His disqualification as a company director now precludes him from controlling any company.”

In addition, Salmon commented: “The SIA will continue to work with its enforcement partners to ensure that any financial benefit from the offending can be identified and confiscated.”

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Top 10 online-enabled frauds hitting British wallets to the tune of £670 million

Organisers of Get Safe Online – the joint public-private sector Internet safety initiative – have revealed the financial and emotional cost of cyber crime. In a specially commissioned poll of 2,000 people by Vision Critical for Get Safe Online Week 2014 (running from 20 to 26 October), half (50%) of those who have been a victim of cyber crime (including online fraud or cases resulting in economic loss, ID theft, hacking or deliberate distribution of viruses and online abuse) said they felt either ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ violated by their ordeal.

Separate figures prepared by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) for Get Safe Online Week offer an indication as to the sheer scale of online crime, with over £670 million lost nationwide to the Top 10 Internet-enabled frauds reported between 1 September 2013 and 31 August this year. The £670 million statistic emanates from reported instances of fraud, calculated when the first contact with victims was via an online function.

Given that a significant number of Internet-enabled fraud cases still pass by unreported, the true economic cost to the UK is likely to be significantly higher.

The Get Safe Online survey also reveals that over half (53%) of the population now views online crime just as seriously as they do ‘physical world’ crimes, destroying the notion that online crime is ‘faceless’ and less important than other crimes. As a result, more cyber crime victims (54%) wish to unmask a perpetrator but only 14% have succeeded in doing so.

Get Safe Online Week 2014 is focused on awareness around individuals not becoming the victim of cyber fraud

Get Safe Online Week 2014 is focused on awareness around individuals not becoming the victim of cyber fraud

As stated, half (50%) of those individuals surveyed for Get Safe Online Week have been a victim of online crime although only 32% of these people reported the fact. Around half (47%) of victims did not know to whom they should report an online crime, although this figure is expected to drop due to the ongoing work of Action Fraud (the UK’s national fraud reporting centre) and the considerable Government resources now dedicated to fighting cyber crime.

On a more positive note, victims in the Get Safe Online poll said that their experiences have shocked them into changing their behaviour for the better, with nearly half (45%) opting for stronger passwords and 42% now being extra vigilant when shopping online. Over a third (37%) always log out of accounts when they go offline and nearly a fifth (18%) have changed their security settings on their social media accounts.

In stark contrast, however, most people still don’t have the most basic protection in place. More than half (54%) of mobile phone users and around a third (37%) of laptop owners do not have a password or PIN number for their device. That figure rises to over half (59%) for PC users and two thirds (67%) when it comes to tablet owners.

The 'Don't Be A Victim' Infographic produced by the team at Get Safe Online

The ‘Don’t Be A Victim’ Infographic produced by the team at Get Safe Online

Supporting law enforcement’s response to cyber crime

Commenting on the survey results, Francis Maude (Minister for the Cabinet Office) stated: “The UK cyber market is worth over £80 billion a year and rising. The Internet is undoubtedly a force for good, but we simply cannot stand still in the face of these threats which already cost our economy billions every year.”

Maude continued: “As part of this Government’s long-term economic plan, we want to make the UK one of the most secure places in which to do business in cyberspace. We have an £860 million Cyber Security Programme in place which supports law enforcement’s response to cyber crime, and we’re also working with the private sector to help all businesses protect their vital information assets.”

Francis Maude MP: Minister for the Cabinet Office

Francis Maude MP: Minister for the Cabinet Office

In conclusion, the Cabinet Office leader added: “Our Get Safe Online and Cyber Streetwise campaigns provide easy to understand information for the public on how and why they should protect themselves. Cyber security is not an issue for Government alone. We must all take action to defend ourselves against the threats now being posed.”

Tony Neate, CEO at Get Safe Online, explained: “Our research shows just how serious a toll cyber crime can take, both on the wallet and on well-being. This has been no more apparent than in the last few weeks with various large-scale personal photo hacks of celebrities and members of the general public. Unfortunately, this is becoming more common now that we live a greater percentage of our lives in the online space.”

Neate went on to state: “This year, Get Safe Online Week is all about ‘Don’t Be A Victim’. We can all take simple steps to protect ourselves, including putting a password on our computers and mobile devices, never clicking on a link sent by a stranger, using strong passwords and always logging off from an account or website when we’re finished. The more the public do this, the more criminals will not be able to hide behind a cloak of anonymity.”

Tony Neate: CEO at Get Safe Online

Tony Neate: CEO at Get Safe Online

Detective Superintendent Pete O’Doherty, head of the NFIB at the City of London Police, said: “Cheap and easy access to the Internet is changing the world and transforming our lives. What many of us may be less aware of is the fact that financial crime has moved online and poses a major threat to people of all ages and from all walks of life. Men and women, young and old, rich and poor. It matters little who you are, where you live or what you do.”

O’Doherty continued: “It’s vitally important people are fully aware of the dangers around fraud and Internet-enabled fraud which is why the City of London Police, in its role as the National Policing Lead for Fraud and home to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, is fully supportive of Get Safe Online’s week of action.”

Importantly, O’Doherty added: “I would also call on anyone who has fallen victim to an online fraud to report this to Action Fraud. It’s only then that local police forces will be able to track down the main offenders and ensure victims receive the best possible support as they try to recover from what can be an extremely difficult and upsetting experience.”

Have you been a victim of cyber-enabled fraud?

George Anderson, director of product marketing at Internet security specialist Webroot, has also offered his views on the survey results.

“It’s sad but not surprising that 53% of British people have fallen victim to cyber crime,” asserted Anderson. “The Internet has been assimilated into our daily lives to the point where it’s easy to forget how hazardous it is if the proper security measures are not taken.”

Anderson continued: “The key to making the UK a safe Internet user zone is education. As a country, as communities and as individuals we should be actively promoting awareness of Internet safety and security issues. The Government’s research should not scare people away from online activities, but rather start the process of serious and continuous conversations whereby we evaluate the online precautions we take both at home and at work. Education should start at an early age, with parents and education bodies working to ensure future generations populated by ‘security savvy’ individuals.”

Adding to that message, Anderson said: “Understanding what preventative measures we can take ranges from a rudimentary awareness through to in-depth technical knowledge. However, far too many people have become too complacent with modern technology to even practice the basics. The modern person should by now know that computers ought to be protected by updated, Best-of-Breed anti-spyware and anti-virus software. They should practice safe surfing habits and harbour a full comprehension of online activities that would place their information at more risk than others. Also, they ought to be able to identify and understand website privacy policies and know when or when not to impart information regarding personal data.”

*If you think you may have been the victim of cyber-enabled economic fraud (ie where you have lost money), you should report the occurrence to Action Fraud and include as much detail as possible. Telephone: 0300 123 2040. Alternatively, visit: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk

**If you have been the victim of online abuse or harassment, you should report it to your local police force

***For general advice on how to stay safe online visit: http://www.GetSafeOnline.org

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Jeff Little OBE appointed as advisor to the Board at MITIE Total Security Management

Brigadier (Retd) Jeff Little OBE MBA CGIA FSyI FICPE has been appointed as an advisor to the Board for MITIE Group plc’s Total Security Management business.

For three years from December 2010, Jeff Little served as CEO of the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) and brings to MITIE Total Security Management (TSM) a vast array of experience in the fields of strategic security, resilience, training, systems and emergency planning.

A distinguished military career resulted in an OBE from Her Majesty The Queen in recognition of Little’s exemplary leadership skills during the third Balkan War which ran from 1991 until 2001.

In this new advisory role, Little will focus on strengthening MITIE’s critical security offering to existing major contractor clients within the defence, nuclear, utilities and data centre sectors.

Jeff Little OBE: strategic advisor to the Board at MITIE TSM

Jeff Little OBE: strategic advisor to the Board at MITIE TSM

“I’ve always been impressed by MITIE’s security business,” explained Little. “It’s one of the only companies in the UK providing a service that genuinely integrates people, technology and specialist partners. I’m now very much looking forward to assisting the development of MITIE TSM’s offer and taking the MITIE way of thinking forward. Security services have become such an integral part of all businesses, so it’s vital that we continue to offer innovative solutions.”

Bob Forsyth: managing director at MITIE TSM

Bob Forsyth: managing director at MITIE TSM

Bob Forsyth, managing director of MITIE TSM, added: “We’re always looking to add fresh and different perspectives to our strategic thinking and Jeff can provide this alongside his invaluable experience in one of our key sectors, namely critical security environments. Jeff’s contribution will be instrumental as we look to build further on our recent successes.”

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