UK: Home Office 'has no idea how many people are in the UK illegally'


A report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has condemned the Home Office's immigration enforcement activities, saying that the body bases its work on “anecdote, assumption and prejudice” rather than evidence.

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UK: Home Office 'bases immigration policies on anecdotes and prejudice' – MPs (The Guardian, link):

"The Home Office has drawn up immigration policies based on “anecdote, assumption and prejudice” instead of relying on evidence, an influential parliamentary committee has concluded.

The public accounts committee said Priti Patel’s department was unaware of the damage caused by policy failures on “both the illegal and legitimate migrant populations”.

In a highly critical report published on Friday, the committee said in summary that Home Office officials had “no idea” what its £400m annual spending on immigration enforcement achieves."

Public Accounts Committee report: Immigration enforcement (pdf, emphasis added):

"Immigration has always been a cause of public and political debate. Despite years of discourse on the topic, we remain concerned by how little evidence the Home Office (the Department) has with which to inform that debate. It is disappointing that, despite this Committee’s previous findings, the Department is still not sufficiently curious about the impact of its actions and the underlying reasons for the challenges it faces.

We are concerned that if the Department does not make decisions based on evidence, it instead risks making them on anecdote, assumption and prejudice. Worryingly, it has no idea of what impact it has achieved for the £400 million spent each year by its Immigration Enforcement directorate. There are major holes in the Department’s understanding of the size and scale of illegal immigration and the extent and nature of any resulting harm. It does not understand the support people need to navigate its systems effectively and humanely, or how its actions affect them. In 2019, 62% of immigration detainees were released from detention because the Department could not return them as planned to their country of origin. The Department does not really understand why this figure is so high or what it can do ensure these returns are completed as planned."

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