Immigration staff ‘must act faster’

Published: Thursday 23rd October 2014 by The News Editor

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Thousands of illegal immigrants could be escaping removal from the UK because immigration officials are failing to act promptly on allegations made by the public, an inspector has warned.

Around four out of 10 allegations concerning immigration offences are not acted on by the Home Office within the response times set by ministers, Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration John Vine found.

In one case sampled by the inspector, the Home Office was told the alleged offender was moving house in three days’ time but immigration staff failed to assess the claim for two weeks.

In another example, an allegation was made concerning the credibility of an appellant in an immigration appeal set to take place in three days – but the case was not looked at for five days and the individual was granted a five-year residence permit.

Mr Vine was inspecting the Intelligence Management System (IMS), a Home Office database used for recording and processing allegations concerning immigration or customs offences received from the public, police or Crimestoppers.

In 2013, more than 75,000 allegations were added to this system, which by the end of February 2014 had resulted in over 4,000 arrests and almost 1,000 removals. N early three-quarters of all allegations received by the system in the period were made directly by members of the public.

“In some cases the information contained in the allegation received will be time-critical and a failure to act in a timely manner may render it ineffective,” Mr Vine said. “It is therefore important that the Home Office takes steps to ensure that the initial harm assessment is carried out in all cases within the timescales set out in the ministerial target.”

Immigration staff should assess all information received in the IMS within two working days, according to the target set by ministers.

Acting promptly had seen Home Office staff take action to prevent offences including disrupting a sham marriage ceremony and checking a flight manifest for incoming passengers suspected of visa abuse, Mr Vine said.

Of the 100 allegations sampled by Mr Vine that had been added to the database in September 2013, more than a third – 39% – had not been assessed within the two-day target while one allegation was not assessed for 73 days.

Of the 25 allegations added in January this year, performance was worse, with more than half – 52% – taking three working days or longer before being assessed. The longest delay before assessment was 15 days.

Published: Thursday 23rd October 2014 by The News Editor

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