22 Oct 2013

‘Go home’ immigration vans ‘too blunt’, says May

The controversial “go home” vans telling illegal immigrants to leave the country will not be rolled out across the UK, Home Secretary Theresa May has confirmed.

The home secretary has told MPs she accepts that the “go home” campaign was not a good idea, calling the vans too much of a “blunt instrument”.

Labour has said the government must now take responsibility for their policy’s “complete failure”.

Ms May claimed there were “some returns achieved” as a result of the plan, adding: “Politicians should be willing to step up to the plate and say when they think something actually hasn’t been as good an idea.”

“But we should also be absolutely clear about what used to happen under the last government.

“Under the last government if somebody came to the end of their visa, nobody got in touch with them to say to them that they should no longer be staying here in the UK.

“That is now happening as a result of the changes in the immigration enforcement, and over the last year as a result of the work that’s being done we’ve seen something around 4,000 people leaving the UK. It’s absolutely right we’re doing that.”

Read more: Lib Dems 'knew nothing of immigration poster vans'

Ad complaints

The Advertising Standards Authority banned the campaign this month over the use of misleading arrest statistics but cleared complaints that it was offensive.

They had received 224 complaints, some put forward by groups representing migrants in the UK, legal academics and the Labour peer Lord Lipsey.

Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable called the campaign “stupid” and Labour reacted by accusing the government of using the language of the National Front in the 1970s.

Read more: scrap immigration texts say men targeted in error

The announcement comes as restaurants across Soho’s Chinatown take part in a one day strike protesting UK Border Agency raids.

More than a dozen businesses have been raided in recent months in what owners claim have been fishing expeditions.

Today they took to the streets, calling on UKBA to take a softer approach in the area.