Border security, the treatment of asylum seekers, and the interviewing of visa applicants overseas are just some of the areas featured in the Independent Chief Inspector of Border and Immigration’s Inspection Plan for 2013-14. The rigorous inspection plan, the first since the Home Secretary announced the break-up of the UK Border Agency, aims to increase the rate of improvement within the UK’s border and immigration functions.
The Independent Chief Inspector will undertake over 20 inspections in 2013-14.
- FIVE full inspections which are currently underway, including inspections of e-borders, Tier 1 of the Points Based System and Asylum Seeking Children.
- NINE new full inspections which cover issues at the border, in the UK and internationally
- TWO inspections commissioned by the Home Secretary; a follow-up investigation into asylum legacy casework, and an inspection of the Agency’s Performance and Compliance Unit
- SIX short notice and unannounced inspections in the UK and overseas
In recent years, the Chief Inspector has seen an improvement in the quality of decisions made on entry clearance applications overseas. As well as inspecting one of the few major overseas posts that he has not examined, Dhaka in Bangladesh, the Chief Inspector will also undertake a thematic inspection examining the impact of the reintroduction of interviewing to test the credibility of visa applicants.
Since the investigation into border security last year, the issues of security and consistency of practice at the border have risen in prominence and priority. Following on from inspections at Gatwick, Heathrow and Birmingham over the last two years, there will be inspections of Stansted Airport, and a detailed examination of border security at minor airports through an inspection of General Aviation. This is in addition to the current inspections looking at Juxtaposed Controls and Freight operations at Air and Maritime ports.
Casework and Removal
Asylum applications remain some of the most important given that they involve an assessment of whether individuals face persecution in their home countries. An inspection of asylum support will allow the Chief Inspector to assess the extent to which the Home Office treats asylum seekers fairly and appropriately and administers the support system efficiently and effectively. The Chief Inspector will also publish a report on unaccompanied children who claim asylum in the UK and on the non-suspensive appeals process for those whose asylum claims are assessed as clearly unfounded.
In 2012 the Chief Inspector brought to light the existence of a migration refusal pool consisting of over 150,000 individuals who had been refused further leave, but remained in the UK. A thematic inspection of the handling of over-stayers will look at the steps that are being taken to reduce the size of the migration refusal pool.
The Chief Inspector also plans to publish a report on the handling of European Casework, and a thematic inspection to assess how the Home Office obtains and uses travel documentation to facilitate the removal of individuals.
Independent Advisory Group on Country Information
The work of the Independent Advisory Group on Country Information (IAGCI) continues to provide an important strand of inspection work. Country reviews and Operational Guidance Notes to be considered by the IAGCI in 2013-14 will include China, India, Nigeria and Pakistan, and a thematic review of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender issues.
Independent Chief Inspector, John Vine CBE QPM, said:
“One of the primary purposes of inspection is to help drive improvement in the delivery of public services. I have now made over 400 recommendations for improvement to the UK’s border and immigration functions. The announcement by the Home Secretary to split up the UK Border Agency echoes my findings that, while there has been progress in some areas, there is much more that can be done.
My inspection plan for the year ahead has been developed with a view to accelerating the pace of improvement. I will focus on the areas where I believe rigorous inspection will help drive improvement in decision quality and the delivery of an efficient and effective service to the public.
This year I will also be undertaking a series of Chief Inspector spot-check visits to review the progress made by the Home Office in implementing recommendations which have been accepted from my previous reports.”
Download the Chief Inspector for Borders and Immigration Inspection Plan 2013-14.