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Home Office responsibilities to change
29 March 2007
The Prime Minister announces major changes to the Home Office.
Tony Blair has announced that the Home Office will be divided and refocused.
Focusing on terrorism, security and immigration
Under the plan announced today, the Home Office will take on a stronger role in tackling the threat of terrorism, alongside its existing responsibilities of the police service, crime reduction, immigration and asylum, and identity and passports.
A new Office for Security and Counter-terrorism will be set up within the Home Office, responsible for developing and supporting the country's overall counter-terrorism strategy.
The Prime Minister said: 'All those working in the field of counter-terrorism - particularly the police, security and intelligence agencies - have worked unstintingly to protect the country from the threats we face. Our counter-terrorism capabilities are among the best in the world. However, the continuing and growing threat from terrorism means the government must develop and improve its counter-terrorism and security capabilities, and its governance.'
As part of the changes, which build on the government's recently published Security, Crime and Justice Policy Review, the government will form a new Ministerial Committee on Security and Terrorism, chaired by the Prime Minister, which will meet regularly to share information on security issues. A national security board chaired by the Home Secretary will meet weekly to study threats to the UK.
New department: the Ministry of Justice
A Ministry of Justice will be created to provide a stronger focus on the criminal justice system, and on reducing re-offending.
This new ministry will take over the staff and responsibilities of the Department for Constitutional Affairs (new window), and the National Offender Management Service (new window) (NOMS), including the prison and probation services, and have lead responsibility for criminal law and sentencing.
Finally, the Office of Criminal Justice Reform will remain a tripartite office, as it is now, but will operate from the new ministry, rather than from the Home Office.
The Prime Minister said the new Ministry of Justice 'will take the leading role in delivering a fairer, more effective, speedy and efficient justice system.'
Some changes are immediate
In a written ministerial statement, the Prime Minister said, 'the security and counter-terrorism changes will have immediate effect.' The creation of the Ministry of Justice, and the movement of the units into that ministry, will take place in May.
In a statement to Parliament, Home Secretary John Reid explained that in the wake of reviews conducted last year, the Prime Minister had decided to enhance the Home Office's focus on issues critical to national security.
'The Home Office will be focused on the challenges of today's world,' Dr Reid said.
The Prime Minister emphasised that 'public protection and crime reduction will continue to be the core focus of government policy'. Therefore, the relationship between the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice will be vital, and strong agreements will be put in place between NOMS, the police, and the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, to ensure that they all work together smoothly.