January 16, 2007

Cock–up after cock–up at the Home Office

Home Office Corporate Logo (somewhat tweaked) As if things couldn’t get any worse…

It turns out that of the sixteen terrorist suspects on control orders, and wearing electronic tags to keep track of them, three have escaped.

This news comes in the week that it was revealed the Home Office hasn’t been updating files on people who committed crimes abroad.

David Davis, the Conservative Shadow Home Secretary, has claimed the scalps of a number of home office ministers. Could John Reid be his next? His department seems completely incapable of doing its job.

There’s probably a case to be made that the Home Office is permanently “unfit for purpose”, encompassing too many different roles. And it’s rumoured Gordon Brown will split it into two when he becomes Prime Minister.

The question is: why can’t that be done now?


- 8 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Mathew Mannion

    Ah society… if you do not allow people to be locked up and instead place them under some kind of farcical house arrest, should we be surprised when they “escape”?

    16 Jan 2007, 17:55

  2. So not only do we have some of the most pernicious, authoritarian anti-terrorism legislation in the western world, but it doesn’t even protect us. I sometimes don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    16 Jan 2007, 17:56

  3. Mathew Mannion

    Also, I should point out that there are 18 terrorist suspects with control orders, of which 2 have been “at large” for some time (hence where I think you have the figure of 16, they’re not really under control anymore at all…)

    16 Jan 2007, 17:57

  4. You’re probably right.

    16 Jan 2007, 18:01

  5. How long is it since John Reid became Home Secretary? I can’t remember, but it seems to be a relatively short time ago. I hate this constant merry-go-round of ministers doing different jobs. Dr Reid has had at least three top cabinet jobs in the last 5 or 6 years; given that the home office was in such a mess when he took it on, is it reasonable to expect it to be a model of efficiency by now? Obviously there are no excuses for electronically tagged terrorists escaping, but surely it’s the staff under him who making the cock-ups. I don’t know half of what goes on, really, but the impression I get from reading the news and the papers is that it’s much less up the creek now than it was when Charles Clarke was removed and Reid took the job on. David Davis might well call for his head, but what’s going to happen then? There’ll be another reshuffle, the same staff will be working there and it’ll end up being no better. It’s like seeing a football manager brought into a rock-bottom club, asked to turn it around on the smallest budget possible and then being sacked after a couple of games but the same useless players remain. I say give him a bit more time and judge him in a couple of years time when the next election approaches.

    17 Jan 2007, 04:42

  6. Reid’s been there for nearly nine months now – it feels less than that. You’ve got a point about the football manager-style merry-go-round, and I often think Ministers take a lot of flack for what people under them have done. If Reid for instance said: “Is there anything else I should know about” and his civil servant barefaced lied to him, there’s not much he can do…

    17 Jan 2007, 08:23

  7. Mathew Mannion

    I must admit, considering I was a bit dubious when he was given the post I’ve actually been very impressed by John Reid’s attitude since being given the position. He certainly realised that the Home Office is a dead duck and a public relations disaster due to its many cock-ups, so he resolved to wipe the slate clean and try and start again.

    It might be interesting to wind the clock back 9 months and asked what we thought about the Home Office then – I’m not sure if it’s any better or worse now!

    17 Jan 2007, 10:30

  8. On a slightly lighter note and following your own picture I thought this was particularly good and relevant: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/graphics/2007/01/16/matt.gif I had to read it twice to get it properly!!

    17 Jan 2007, 21:49


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