Newsletter September Newsletter

Good & Bad News in Britain – September 2022 Update

Good News Britain

  • The Bike Project, set up in 2013, refurbishes second-hand bikes and provides them to refugees and asylum seekers in London and Birmingham.
  • Twenty Ukrainian medical students whose training was thrown into turmoil by the Russian invasion are starting clinical placements around Cambridge.
  • Ahead of the court hearing this month scheduled to decide the lawfulness of the deportations to Rwanda, eight individuals, the Public and Commercial Services Union, Care4Calais, Detention Action and Asylum Aid challenged the government’s attempts to keep secret around 10 extracts from two Foreign Office documents. The judge ruled that four extracts could be withheld, as well as some specific words in others, under public interest immunity. It has already been revealed that a Foreign Office official warned ministers that the Rwandan government tortures and kills its political opponents.
  • Cambridge University is supporting a claim for the return to Nigeria of 116 objects, currently held in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology collections. The artefacts were taken by British troops during the sacking of Benin City in 1897.
  • The Horniman Museum in London is also to return objects looted by British troops, including brass plaques known as the Benin bronzes, which have great spiritual value, to Nigerians.
  • Thousands of haemophiliacs infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s will each receive an interim payment of £100,000. More than 3,000 have already died. Currently the compensation is only for those infected and bereaved partners. Parents and children of those infected or deceased are not covered, but the public inquiry may decide on awards to them too when it ends in 2023.
  • An artist who fled Russia because of his anti-war stance has unveiled a sculpture of a suitcase in Edinburgh to highlight the plight of refugees.
  • Pregnant women in England and Wales will be able to permanently access early medical abortions at home by taking two pills. Doctors must certify that the gestation period is below 10 weeks.

Bad News Britain

  • There were more than 12,000 responses to the government’s consultation on the Human Rights Act. Although the government failed to publish all the data, AI believes there was extensive opposition to many proposals. Despite this, the government plans to continue with them.
  • Official guidelines say that a woman should be offered a choice between medical or surgical abortion care before 24 weeks, but provision is patchy across England due to funding disparities, resulting in a ‘postcode lottery’. It means some women may not have to their procedure of choice, face lengthy waits or travel for treatment.
  • Two women are currently awaiting trial in England on abortion-related offences.
  • There are just 16 hotels in the UK with any rooms that are fully accessible to wheelchair users, six of which are in London. With more than 14mn disabled people in the UK, campaigners want full disabled access requirements – including at least one ceiling hoist for every 100 hotel rooms – to be part of Building Regulations.
  • According to the Children’s Commissioner, 650 children aged between 10 and 17 were strip-searched between 2018 and 2020. In almost a quarter, there was no ‘appropriate adult’ present. More than two thirds were black boys.
  • More than 25,000 migrants have crossed the English Channel this year so far and there are credible reports of people smugglers lowering their prices due to competition. Many of the recent migrants are Albanian – 2,165 between January and June 2022 compared with 23 in the same period last year.
  • Thousands of Russians have been given visas, including tourist visas since the invasion of Ukraine began.
  • In late August, there were 37,000 people in hotels awaiting decisions on their migration status, including 9,500 Afghans who had worked for British authorities, at a cost of £4.7mn a day.
  • The Internet Watch Foundation has said that nearly 20,000 web pages of child sexual abuse imagery found in the first half of this year (up from 8,000 in the same period in 202) included self-generated content of children aged between seven and 10.
  • Black and Asian people were much more likely than white people to be given fines for breaking Covid-19 rules according to figures obtained by Liberty, indicative of police bias.
  • The Department for International Trade is offering improving trading terms to Syria. Amnesty International’s crisis response manager warned against allowing individuals or firms linked to the regime benefiting from these new arrangements.
  • The British Museum is barred by the British Museum Act 1963 from returning any of the 4.5 million objects in its collection, including those plundered. Directors of other museums have called on the legislation to be reviewed.