UK's Patel plans to ‘crack down’ on asylum claims and eco-protesters in 2022

Home Secretary says priorities are getting through the Police and Crime Bill and the Nationality and Borders Bill

A handout photograph released by the UK Parliament shows Britain's Home Secretary Priti Patel making a Statement on the 'Small boats incident in the Channel', in the House of Commons in London on November 25, 2021. AFP/UK Parliament
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The UK Home Secretary has said she intends to “crack down” on eco-protesters and end the “legal merry-go-round” of “spurious” asylum claims in 2022.

In a new year message posted on social media, Priti Patel said she was proud of many things the government had achieved in 2021, such as the launch of its strategy to tackle violence against women and girls.

But she said there was “much more to do” this year, including cracking down on eco-protesters, who had “caused misery to the law-abiding public”.

Looking ahead to 2022, Ms Patel said it was “vital” the government’s Police and Crime Bill passed through Parliament.

“The Bill will introduce mandatory life sentences for those who kill an emergency worker in the course of their duty and also crack down on the so-called eco-protesters on our roads and motorways that have caused misery to the law-abiding public,” she said.

“I will also continue to prioritise fixing our broken asylum system. It has been untouched for two decades, but passing our (Nationality and) Borders Bill into law in 2022 will finally give us the powers we need to deliver long overdue change.

“A fairer system deterring illegal entry across the Channel by cracking down on people smugglers and ending the legal merry-go-round of spurious asylum claims is what the British people expect and we will deliver.”

The Home Secretary said she was proud that the government had recruited more than 11,000 of the extra 20,000 police officers promised.

Home Office figures to the end of September put the overall provisional headcount of officers in England and Wales at 139,908.

This included 11,053 hired as part of the 20,000 pledge, a quarterly report on the progress of the scheme said, suggesting forces had recruited 55 per cent of the total target.

Ms Patel also said the streets were safer thanks to a reduction in knife crime, gun crime and murders.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there was an 8 per cent decrease in knife-enabled crime in the year to June 2021, compared with the previous year.

Homicides were also down 11 per cent, it said, while offences involving firearms fell by 6 per cent.

All figures were for crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales.

However the ONS stressed that patterns of crime over that period had been “significantly affected” by the Covid pandemic and government instructions to limit social contact.

“The start of a new year is always a special time to reflect upon the previous year, but also to look ahead to what we want to achieve in the year to come,” said Ms Patel.

“Whether it be cutting crime, keeping our country safe from terrorism, or controlling our borders, we have a range of plans in progress to deliver for the British people.

“That is an ambitious programme, but one I will be relentless in delivering as we focus on building back safer in the year ahead. I know we’ve got a lot of work to do in 2022. So let’s get to it.”

Updated: January 02, 2022, 10:02 PM