With the end of 2015 in sight, we asked Whitehall's top officials to review the year, set out their priorities for 2016 – and shed some light on their festive plans. Mark Sedwill, permanent secretary of the Home Office, takes part in our biggest-ever perm secs' round-up series...
How did you tackle the biggest challenges facing your organisation in 2015?
The events of the past few months show the sheer scale of the challenges facing the Home Office. The summer and autumn were dominated by the migration crisis in the Mediterranean, while the appalling terrorist attacks in Egypt, Lebanon and France demonstrate the enduring threat from terrorism. As well as ensuring the UK’s borders are secure and tackling terrorism and extremism at home and abroad, the Home Office is driving reform in policing and the way it is funded. We’re also beginning our own radical transformation programme, to ensure the department can adapt to a significantly reduced budget, fast-evolving threats and new technology.
As ever, I approach these challenges by ensuring I have a strong and accomplished leadership team around me, empowering them to make decisions, offering guidance and intervening when needed. This leaves me time to focus on the key strategic questions facing the Home Office and the 250,000 people for whom we are responsible, working in borders and immigration, homeland security and law enforcement.
What are your department’s top priorities in the year ahead?
In the year ahead, we will continue to deliver on the home secretary’s priorities: preventing terrorism, cutting crime, protecting the vulnerable, controlling immigration and promoting growth. The threats and challenges evolve fast: we must transform to stay on top of them.
What film do you hope to watch over the festive period – and what’s the best game to play with your family on Christmas day?
I’ve no idea which films are on, but I will go to the local pantomime with friends, kids and grandparents.
Perm secs round-up 2015: Whitehall's top civil servants review the year – and look ahead to 2016