“It gives me great pleasure to present my fifth annual report as the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.
Historically significant change has followed on from my inspection work and this year has been no exception. I have inspected some important pieces of work across a broad spectrum of visas, immigration casework and Border Control. I have published 14 reports and made 90 recommendations to the Home Office, bringing the total to over 400 since my inception. The majority of these recommendations have been accepted, either in whole or in part, by the Home Office.
This year also saw the Home Secretary abolish the UK Border Agency and return the responsibility of delivering all border and immigration functions to the main Home Office. I have given a cautious welcome to her announcement although it will not, in itself, fix all the problems. Nevertheless, there is a better chance of real improvement as it gives an opportunity to focus on fixing different parts of the immigration system each of which have their individual challenges.
My inspection programme provides constructive challenge, with the aim of driving improvement across the UK’s border and immigration functions. Inspections have also helped to improve transparency and facilitate greater public scrutiny.
One of the greatest challenges for the Home Office is that, the UK’s immigration system is multi-faceted and complex. It needs to balance seemingly conflicting priorities, such as attracting migrants who will boost our economy and enrich our society, whilst also ensuring that those with no lawful right to be in the UK are removed.
Looking forward the Home Office should aim to develop a good basic service, consistently applied, and in which the public have confidence. Given further budget reductions, the Home Office will also need to drive out some of the inefficiencies I have found, for example in its handling of applications, so that it can deliver a good service at reduced cost.
Whilst I think that the move to different directorates will help create a distinct ethos in each one, the challenge will be to ensure they do not operate in isolation. Ultimately the aim is for the Home Office to provide, not only, an efficient and effective service to applicants, but also a seamless one that will give the public confidence that the UK’s borders are secure.”