8 Nov 2013

Full scale of border failings revealed

The failed UK Border Agency has left a massive backlog of cases that will take five years to clear, a new report by MPs reveals.

UK Border Agency home affairs illegal immigration Keith Vaz

And despite promises to get tough on illegal immigration, only 6 per cent of tip-offs from the public were followed up, the home affairs select committee discovered.

UKBA was scrapped at the end of March after a string of damning reviews of its performance.

Home Secretary Theresa May has replaced the agency with UK Visas and Immigration and an Immigration Enforcement command, both brought back under the direct control of ministers.

MPs looked at UKBA’s allegations database, which recorded tip-offs about illegal immigrants made by members of the public, and found that only 6 per cent of claims are investigated and 1.5 per cent lead to removals.

If the government wants to get tough on illegal immigrants it needs to take effective action. When people make allegations about those here illegally, the Home Office must act. Home affairs select committee report

Committee chairman Keith Vaz MP said: “There are still over 430,000 cases languishing in the backlogs, enough to fill Wembley Stadium almost five times over.

“As we have said on numerous occasions, the backlogs must be cleared as a matter of priority. Only then will the Home Office be able to tackle the deeper problems in the immigration system.”

“Currently only six in 100 reports of illegal immigrants result in an actual investigation and only 1.5 in 100 result in removal. This is a very poor record and does not give confidence to those who go out of their way to help the Home Office.”

‘Chaotic summer’

Between its introduction on 30 September last year and 30 June this year, the database had received 48,660 allegations – about 178 a day.

In the eight months to May this year, allegations resulted in 2,695 investigations with visits by immigration enforcement officers, 1,840 arrests and 660 removals.

Mr Vaz said this was a “chaotic summer for immigration policy”, listing the controversy over the Home Office “go home” vans, allegations that contractor Capita mistakenly asked British citizens to leave their own country, and Twitter being used to publicise immigration raids.

We recommend that the government distinguish between those who are temporarily in the country through choice… and those who are here through no choice of their own. Home affairs select committee report

The committee said it was concerned that measures in the government’s new immigration bill to charge temporary migrants for access to the NHS would be applied to vulnerable people.

The report said: “We have no objection in principle to the introduction of a charge for access to the National Health Service for those who are in the UK only temporarily and would therefore not otherwise be making a long-term contribution to the NHS.

“However, we recommend that the government distinguish between those who are temporarily in the country through choice – to work, study or visit family – and those who are here through no choice of their own, such as refugees and victims of trafficking.

“To charge these vulnerable people for access to NHS care would be wholly wrong.”