Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration Announces Inspection Plan for 2014/15

The Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, John Vine CBE QPM:

“It gives me great pleasure to present my Inspection Plan for 2014-15 as the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.

Since my post was established in 2008, I have highlighted good practice as well as areas where the Home Office must improve its delivery of border and immigration functions. During that time, I have made over 450 recommendations, the vast majority of which have been accepted by the Department.

My inspection plan for the forthcoming year maintains a focus on the importance of providing a consistent and competent service for applicants who seek permission to enter and remain in the UK and the need for the Home Office to use its enforcement powers appropriately. The Home Office must also demonstrate it is providing a consistent and effective border control operation.

The UK’s border and immigration functions are now split between three Home Office Directorates- Border Force; UK Visas and Immigration; and Immigration Enforcement. A particular focus of this year’s plan will be to assess how effectively these three directorates are working together to ensure a seamless immigration process for legitimate applicants and travellers. I have scheduled seven full inspections this year.

The Home Office’s is responsible for protecting the border, while ensuring that a good service is provided to arriving passengers and those transporting goods through ports. Thus, I intend to undertake a full inspection of Heathrow. I will also initiate an inspection of General Aviation and Maritime that will examine whether there are sufficient checks at smaller airports and seaports.

I have a statutory remit as Independent Monitor for Entry Clearance Refusals without the Right of Appeal. As such, I plan to conduct a thematic inspection that will examine decision quality on family visit applications at a number of overseas posts. Given the limitations on appeal rights in these cases, it is important that initial decisions on these are made consistently and fairly.

Asylum cases are some of the most sensitive ones dealt with by the Home Office as the applicants are by definition vulnerable and may be fleeing persecution in their home countries. I will carry out a comprehensive inspection of asylum casework.

 Significant numbers of people are granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK each year. Aside from a British passport and some voting rights, a grant of ILR gives an individual many of the same entitlements as citizenship. I therefore intend to undertake an inspection of settlement casework.

In a previous report, I highlighted the need for the UK Border Agency to become an intelligence led organisation and to decide how it wished to use intelligence. I plan to conduct a further inspection that will assess the use of intelligence to prevent and disrupt illegal working.

Failed removals are costly to the taxpayer and an inefficient use of resource. Therefore, I plan to carry out an inspection that will examine the reasons why removals fail and how such cases are then managed.

Shortly before the publication of this plan the Home Secretary commissioned me to look at how the Home Office handles asylum claims on the grounds of sexual orientation. These are asylum claims from individuals on the grounds that their sexual orientation gives them a well-founded fear of persecution if they return to their country of origin. This inspection will commence immediately.

In addition to the seven full inspections and Home Secretary commission, I will conduct six short notice and unannounced inspections throughout the year.

The Independent Advisory Group on Country Information will also continue its important work on my behalf, scrutinising the quality of country of origin material being produced by the Home Office.”

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