By S Neeraj Krishna
PRITI PATEL has vowed to deport grooming gang members of dual nationality, asserting that the Conservatives were living up to the “party of law and order” tag.
The home secretary noted that a series of “abhorrent” grooming crimes — mostly sexual exploitation by gangs of south Asian men — had ruined the lives of many children, especially teenage girls.
“When it comes to the individuals and perpetrators of dual nationality, we want to make sure they are deported for their crimes,” Patel said during a discussion as part of the Blue Collar Conservatism virtual conference, in association with the Daily Express on Wednesday (30).
“I’m afraid in the past not enough of that has taken place.”
She also said the government was determined to end illegal migration into the UK, and the Home Office was sending two flights detainees back to European Union countries every week.
“When it comes to illegal migration our measures are based on law enforcement, based on working with our security agencies,” Patel said. “We have had hundreds of arrests with organised immigration gangs, organised immigration criminals and associates. They are people trafficking and they are responsible for illegal migration and smuggling people into the UK — mainly through small boats.”
At least 210 of them who crossed the English Channel were sent back this year, and about 1,000 were scheduled for deportation, she said.
However, the home secretary observed, some EU nations shunning responsibility in taking back deportees, and interventions by activists were delaying the deportation process.
“We have a lot of work taking place with France, Belgium and the Netherlands,” said Patel. “We are sending them to EU countries where we have data on them travelling through because the EU are all safe countries… who are all signatories of the European Convention of Human Rights, and it is right we return people back to those countries.”
The home secretary also reiterated her promise to change the UK’s asylum policy that had “not been altered in decades”.
On the promise to reclaim the Tory tag as “the party of law and order”, Patel highlighted the induction of 20,000 police officers, adding that about 100,000 applicants participated in the recruitment drive.
“The police presence alone has really mobilised members of the public who want to join the police,” she said. “Joining the police is an incredible professional career. Having younger officers coming forward is incredible.”
Paying tributes to killing of Sergeant Matt Ratana who was shot dead in Croydon last week, Patel said more needed to be done to protect police officers.
She stressed that the government was committed to a legislation to double the sentences of people who attack emergency workers, and implementing a Police Covenant to protect officers and their families.
Incidentally, the Blue Collar Conservativism movement has been accusing the British legal system of “becoming too soft”.
Shipley MP Philip Davies, who had founded the movement with Tatton MP and former Good Morning Britain host Esther McVey, told Daily Express the government should get more stringent with crime in the UK.
“As I have been going around the country attending Blue Collar Conservative Conversations, one thing that has come across loud and clear is that people do not feel that we are keeping them safe or locking criminals up for long enough — especially those who repeatedly break the law,” he added.
“They are absolutely right.”