Racist Police, Guns, Drugs, Immigration out of Control ... When Are You Going to Get a Grip, Mr Blunkett? Home Secretary David Blunkett Has to Deal with Some of the Toughest Issues in Society - Immigration, Drugs, Gun Crime and Policing. Is He Winning the War? We Put Him in the Hot Seat

Article excerpt

Byline: KITTY DIMBLEBY

Q

You granted a "oneoff"amnesty to thousands of asylum seekers. Wasn't that an open invitation to would-be immigrants the world over to come to Britain?

would have been if we weren't doing several other things at the same time.

We are only doing this because these cases came under previous legislation where there were multiple rights of appeal, which could recommence when the initial claim had been dealt with. All those affected applied under the law before the beginning of October 2000. We took a decision that I think was very brave. Had 15,000 families been dealt with under the old law, which was very bureaucratic, it would have been inhumane, because children were already in school and families were embedded in the community.

This would have been expensive and would have diverted resources away from the immediate measures being taken. These are firstly, stopping clandestines getting in, secondly, speeding up the process and, thirdly, removing those who are

removable. We're now removing almost 1,500 failed asylum seekers and 1,500 nonasylum illegal entrants a month.

you think the BBC should continue to send undercover reporters into the police to root out racism?

think it should continue with good investigative journalism and when it does so it should share detailed information with us at a point where we can take action rather than with other news media, denying it to those who can take action and make a difference. The irony of the investigation the BBC did into Greater Manchester Police was that it did so precisely because Greater Manchester themselves admitted they had a problem, and the producer said that on the Today programme.

Q Would the country be better off with an effective opposition?

A I'm in favour of vigorous parliamentary democracy but I am also in favour of the Government ensuring that it presents its policies and its delivery of those policies.

I want the Government to be very popular and to wipe the floor with the opposition! My comment on the position at the moment is that Michael Howard will have a hell of a job persuading people that what he did as Home Secretary was right given all the measures I am now having to put in place, measures he failed to act on.

I am having to do what he should have done a decade ago.

Q Gun crime is rising, Bobbies aren't on the beat. Have the forces of law given up control of our streets?

A They have not. People are worried and that's why we are taking the steps needed to get the extra police employed, 9,000 since the General Election, actually out there; available, accessible and visible. …