James Slack, Daily Mail (London), November 8, 2013
Only one in every 67 reports of illegal immigration result in a person being booted out of the country, a damning report by MPs reveals today.
Incredibly, in 94 out of every 100 cases, immigration officials are not even bothering to properly follow-up on tip offs from concerned members of the public.
This is despite David Cameron personally urging people to ‘report suspected illegal immigrants’ a to new Border Agency database so they could be deported.
MPs say that, as a result of the inaction by officials, people will lose confidence and could soon stop bothering to ring the authorities to report illegal working or visa over-stayers.
The revelations are contained in yet another critical report on the UK’s border controls by Westminster’s home affairs select committee.
The report revealed that between its introduction on September 30 last year and June 30 this year, the illegal immigrant database received 48,660 allegations – about 178 a day.
But, in the eight months to May this year, allegations resulted in only 2,695 investigations with visits by Immigration Enforcement officers, 1,840 arrests and 660 removals.
MPs said this was the equivalent of only around 6 per cent of claims leading to an investigation and 1.5 per cent to removals.
The study also said the UKBA had a backlog of 432,029 immigration and asylum cases when it was scrapped at the end of March – which at current levels will take five years to clear.
After a raft of damning reports, Home Secretary Theresa May abolished the UKBA earlier this year, and replaced it with UK Visas and Immigration and an Immigration Enforcement command, under the direct control of ministers.
Committee chairman Keith Vaz 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.’
The committee also took aim at the government’s recent efforts to reduce Britain’s ‘pull factor’ for immigrants by introducing charges for access to the NHS.
Under the proposals, temporary migrants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), including those on a route to settlement in the UK, will face a healthcare surcharge of around £150 per year for students and around £200 per year for others.
The MPs claimed it could unfairly hit victims of people trafficking and said a fairer scheme would be to force visa applicants to take out private health insurance.
The committee backed the Home Office’s policy of trying to persuade illegal immigrants to go home voluntarily, with government support.
MPs agreed this was cheaper than forced removals, which cost around £11,000 each.
But they joined attacks on the so-called ‘racist van ‘, which toured London advising illegals to ‘go home’ or face arrest. The vans were scrapped by Mrs May last month after proving ineffective.
The report said: ‘Tough enforcement action should be taken against those who are determined to remain here illegally, but for the target audience of potential voluntary returners, the effectiveness of the carrot is potentially undermined by the ostentatious brandishing of the stick.’
Mr Vaz said: ‘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.
‘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.’
Mr Vaz lamented the ‘chaotic summer for immigration policy’, citing the controversial ‘go home’ vans, allegations that Capita asked British citizens to leave their own country, Twitter being used to publicise raids and the U-turn on visa bonds.
Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: ‘The UK Border Agency was a troubled organisation since its formation in 2008 and its performance was not good enough. That is why we split the Agency and brought its work into the Home Office under two distinct directorates.
‘We have already made some progress and it is welcome that the backlog according to the Select Committee has been reduced by 70,400 or 14 per cent in the quarter. Our newly created UK Visa and Immigration directorate is focused on delivering a high-volume, high-quality visa service while Immigration Enforcement is getting tough on those who break our immigration laws.
‘We are building an immigration system that the public can have confidence in. We have already reformed the immigration rules and net migration is down by a third since its peak in 2010.’