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Home Office loses track of lots of migrants

Home Office loses track of lots of migrants

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Home Office loses track of lots of migrants

2 April 2018

In a kind of dysfunctional double whammy recent media reports have revealed (1) that the Home Office has “lost” several hundred foreign criminals who have been released from prison and are awaiting deportation and (2) that the reintroduction of exit checks on migrants leaving the UK has not been going very well.

In regards to the former, this is a recurring story that will probably go on for ever. The information came to light as the result of a freedom of information request which, remarkably, took the Home Office some two years to respond to.

In regards to the latter, exit checks on migrants were abolished in the 1990s. This had the rather strange result for immigration lawyers and others that it was usually easy to work out when a migrant had entered the UK from their passport stamp (unless they had status under European law, in which case there was no stamp) but more difficult to work out when they had left the UK, because in no case was there any exit stamp.

In 2015 the Government of the day reintroduced exit checks, or supposedly, so as to tighten things up. Not surprisingly, the Home Office wanted to have better information about who was in the UK and who wasn’t.

However, according to a recent report from David Bolt, Chief Inspectors of Borders and Immigration, this project has not been managed very efficiently. The new scheme is, according to him, very unreliable, and no departure records exist for a substantial minority of migrants who should have one.

This irresistibly tempts us to say “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”, an epigram normally only employed by French people or pretentious English-speaking ones, but it could have been made for the Home Office. They frequently come up with new schemes and new projects but usually nothing really changes.

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