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HoC Home Affairs Committee — Work of the Home Secretary

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Committee name Commons Home Affairs Committee
Date of session 14/06/2023
Date of publication 16/06/2023
Inquiry Work of the Home Secretary

Witnesses I: Rt Hon Suella Braverman MP, Home Secretary; Rachel Watson, Policing Director, Home Office; Daniel Hobbs, Director of Asylum, Protection and Enforcement, Home Office.

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The Commons Home Affairs Committee met on 14/06/2023 to take evidence as part of their inquiry into Work of the Home Secretary.

Issues covered during the session included:

  • adult services websites promoting prostitution;
  • human trafficking;
  • illegal migration and small boats;
  • modern slavery;
  • child asylum seekers;
  • asylum processing and accommodation;
  • the government’s fraud strategy and the Online Safety Bill;
  • payment fraud;
  • drink spiking;
  • policing operations (Just Stop Oil were mentioned as an example of protests)

Will you make spiking an individual criminal offence?

Suella Braverman: Spiking is an abhorrent crime already. It is illegal under existing legislation such as the Offences Against the Person Act and the Sexual Offences Act. The perpetrators of that kind of behaviour need to be brought to justice. Proper investigations need to be led and prosecutions need to be successfully brought.

We are very keen to explore and work more proactively with the National Police Chiefs’ Council. I have raised it with Deputy Chief Constable Maggie Blyth, who is the NPCC lead for tackling violence against women and girls. There has been a reclassification of the drugs that have been historically linked with drink spiking. There has been extra funding through the Safety of Women at Night and the Safer Streets funds, to support initiatives that prevent people from becoming victims of spiking.

I recently visited Nottinghamshire police and met the night-time economy team. They have got a really good unit that goes out to city centres on Friday and Saturday nights outside clubs and bars. They are ready and waiting to support people who might complain of being victims of spiking. What we find is a real challenge operationally. By the time someone realises that they might have been spiked, and by the time they get to the police, it is very hard operationally to prove that the substances are in their system or to find the perpetrator. Those are where we need to target efforts, in my view.

Carolyn Harris: Okay. Thanks ever so much. Thank you, Chair.

Q587 Chair: Can I just check whether the Home Office has published its report on the prevalence of spiking, and the actions it proposes to take? Have you produced that yet? We produced a report and that was one of the things you said you were going to do.

Suella Braverman: The Minister for Safeguarding wrote to you on 3 April saying that publication would be delayed, due to the pre-election period, as it was then. We are looking to finalise and publish it very soon.

Q588 Chair: Very soon. Okay. Thank you.

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