Chief Inspector publishes inspection report on the Home Office’s ‘Hostile Environment’ initiatives
The Home Secretary has laid a report from the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration on two of the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ measures in Parliament.
An inspection of the ‘hostile environment’ measures relating to driving licences and bank accounts January to July 2016
The report examines the steps taken as a result of the Immigration Acts 2014 and 2016 to deny public and private services and benefits to individuals who have no legal right to be in the UK, focusing on UK driving licences and bank and building society current accounts since these measures built on pre-existing arrangements and are therefore most mature.
The driving licence and bank and building society measures, like the other ‘hostile environment’ measures, rely on partnership working between the Home Office and in this case the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and Cifas respectively. The inspection found that these partnerships worked well. However, the Home Office needed to ensure that sufficient attention and effort is put into improving the arrangements for data sharing, for assuring data quality, and for processing matches to avoid wrong decisions because of errors over an individual’s immigration status. The inspection found that the Home Office failed to appreciate the potential impact of such wrong decisions on those affected, and relied too heavily on avenues of redress.
The Independent Chief Inspector also found that the Home Office needed to give greater thought to the evaluation of its ‘hostile environment’ measures, both the individual measures and the overall ‘package’, not least to justify the cost and effort required of the Home Office and from others to deliver them.
The Chief Inspector publishes 5 reports.
The Home Secretary has laid in Parliament five reports from the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.
Home Secretary Commissions – Section 50 of the Borders Act 2007 enables the Home Secretary to commission the Chief Inspector to inspect and report on specified matters. These three commissions were requested by the former Home Secretary on 29 January and submitted on 19 August 2016
Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration calls for an improvement of the Home Office’s family reunion applications handling
- The Home Office is too ready to reject family reunion applications when applicants fail to provide sufficient evidence of their eligibility
- Withdrawal of Home Office commissioned and funded DNA tests identified as a major reason for first time application refusals
- The ICIBI report invites the Home Office to recognise the impact of avoidable delays on applicants
David Bolt, Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI), calls on the Home Office to better manage family reunion applications and show more understanding of the circumstances and difficulties faced by applicants coming from areas of conflict.
Under existing rules family members of individuals who have been granted asylum in the UK, or five years’ humanitarian protection, can apply to be reunited with their family.
The ICIBI inspection found that since the Home Office stopped commissioning and funding DNA tests to establish family relationships the number of family reunion applications rejected for failure to produce sufficient evidence has doubled for certain nationalities.
Inspectors also found that family reunion applications are often refused rather than being deferred to allow applicants to produce the missing evidence. This means that individuals who are eligible for family reunion are delayed in receiving entry clearance. While it accurately reflects the rules, Home Office guidance to applicants should be more helpful in identifying the evidence they are likely to need to provide in order for their applications to succeed.
Mr Bolt asks decision makers to consider all available evidence when processing family reunion applications and, in line with Home Office rules, to take exceptional circumstances and compassionate factors into account when making their decision.
David Bolt said:
“The family reunion report identifies a number of areas where the Home Office needs to improve. Applicants, stakeholders and others need to be reassured that the Home Office recognises the particular challenges facing many family reunion applicants, and that it manages applications not just efficiently and effectively, but thoughtfully and with compassion”.
Notes to editors
- The family reunions report looks at the clarity of the Home Office guidance, the quality and timeliness of decision making and the handling of appeals and re-applications.
- The Home Office has published its response to the 10 recommendations made by the family reunion report.
- The majority of family reunion applications are from Somali, Eritrean and Sudanese nationals and the inspection specifically examines these cases and experiences.
- The inspection also looked at the handling of Kuwaiti Bidoon applications, following concerns expressed by stakeholders.
- The report was submitted to the Home Secretary on the 18 July 2016.
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Re-inspection of Heathrow Airport – Border Force makes progress but there’s room for improvement.
Border Force at Heathrow made good progress in complying with guidance on detention and searching of passengers, said David Bolt, Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI). In his re-inspection report published today, Mr Bolt recognises that Border Force’s performance at Heathrow Airport improved.
The re-inspection found that the Home Office acted upon the recommendations made by the ICIBI Heathrow Airport inspection, conducted in 2014. Some issues identified in the previous inspection, however, still persist. More should be done to enforce the law, without exceptions, on passengers carrying undeclared alcohol or tobacco goods in excess of their duty free allowance. Border Force also failed to maintain records in relation to searches of passengers.
Mr Bolt said: “I am pleased that standards in Border Force’s operations raised as a result of the recommendations this inspectorate made in 2014. But some areas require further attention and senior managers will need to do more to achieve the necessary improvements. “
Notes to editors
- The report published today examines what progress were made on the six recommendations made in the ICIBI Heathrow Airport inspection report, published in 2015.
- The 2015 report made six recommendations for improvement to the Home Office:
– To maintain accurate records for every passenger in detention.
– To ensure all searches of persons are conducted according to guidance.
– To inform all passengers on their right to appeal prior to a search.
– To provide consistent guidance across all staff on how to produce and keep notes for the searches conducted by staff.
– To ensure all notes relating to passenger searches are stored according to guidance.
– To consistently enforce the law when passengers attempt to enter the UK with a quantity of goods that exceed the allowance.
- The re-inspection of Border Force operation at Heathrow Airport was conducted in May 2016 and it was submitted to the Home Secretary on Monday 18 July 2016
- The ICIBI committed to re-inspect where the Home Office has accepted recommendations from previous reports to examine what has been done. The Heathrow Airport report published today is the first of this kind
- The Home Office response to the Heathrow Airport re-inspection report.
‘Lorry drops’, Country of Origin Information and Intelligence reports published today
The Secretary of State has today published the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration’s report on the Home Office response to ‘lorry drops’. The report examines how effectively the Home Office managed the increase in the number of migrants who entered the UK concealed in a heavy goods vehicle.
The report found that the Home Office had maintained the quality of its initial response despite the significant increase in ‘lorry drops’. The report also found that:
- there was a risk that minors placed in the care of social services would run away
- the Home Office was not as strong when identifying potential victims of trafficking
- the number of initial decisions on asylum claims fell well short of the increased number of claims made.
The inspection looked at how the Home Office worked with its partners, in particular with police forces, when dealing with ‘lorry drops’. It also examined how it handled the immigration cases of the individuals encountered.
The Home Office accepted three recommendations in full and three in part, out of the six recommendations made by the report.
Notes to editor
The report published today was submitted to the Secretary of State on 27 April 2016. It makes six recommendations for improvements.
Today, the Home Secretary has also laid before Parliament two reports by the Independent Chief Inspector David Bolt:
Alongside the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration’s inspection report, the Home Office has published its responses to the reports published today.