The borders and immigration watchdog claims that when it comes to removing foreign criminals from the UK, there is “no single version of the truth” within the Home Office.
The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, David Neal, raised various issues with the removal of foreign criminals and the Home Office’s record-keeping procedures.
In recent months, ministers have emphasised numerous times the Government’s desire to expunge foreign national offenders—those who have committed a crime in the UK and received a term of at least 12 months in prison.
The Home Office “frequently cites its determination to remove foreign national offenders,” according to Mr. Neal, who wrote the report’s prologue.
However, the watchdog discovered recurring issues with Home Office operations, calling one specific area’s record-keeping strategy as “no way to run a government department.”
Labour’s Yvette Cooper criticised Home Secretary Suella Braverman in the Commons on Thursday over the “damning” report.
“She is running it. This Home Secretary is running this chaos, failing to sort out the boats crisis, failing to clear the backlog or mend the broken asylum system. Failing to get a grip.”
The 84-page report provided a thorough examination of the removal procedure, and Mr. Neal concluded that the “Home Office’s performance in this area is not efficient” in his preface.
Mr. Neal highlighted specific worries about the accessibility of data and the “underperforming” early removal programme.
He wrote: “This inspection found that the only way for the Home Office to identify a nationality cohort awaiting deportation was to manually trawl through multiple spreadsheets. For an operation of this size to be run like this is unacceptable.
“For any operation to be effective, there needs to be a single version of the truth, and for FNOs (foreign national offenders) it does not exist. Worryingly, I found no evidence of a strategy to build one.”
Elsewhere, he found that there was “insufficient information to effectively identify which FNOs could be removed from the country today”.
He said: “The Home Office does not have an overarching view of its case-working system. In order to establish the current state of a particular case, case owners have to manually interrogate individual case records.
“This is no way to run a government department.”
As many people are preoccupied with the appeal court decision over Ms. Braverman’s asylum policy, shadow home secretary Ms. Cooper charged that Ms. Braverman had “no grip” over her department and was attempting to covertly publish the scathing report.
“While all eyes are on the Government’s chaotic Rwanda policy, this is a shameful attempt by the Home Secretary to slip out a damning report into her failing management of foreign national offenders,” the Labour MP said.
“The number of foreign national offender removals has plummeted and Suella Braverman’s Home Office is failing badly on data and casework. Her failure to follow basic warnings from the Inspectorate has left more dangerous criminals on the streets, putting public safety at risk.”