A tempting solution for many of us to deal with our problems would be to box them up and hide them away. Whilst only a reckless few would dare take such a course of action for fear of the inevitable repercussions, this has been precisely the UKBA’s recent approach to addressing part of its backlog of unresolved cases. Early in November, perhaps whilst searching for last year’s boxed Christmas decorations, a considerable number of unopened letters relating to unresolved cases were stumbled upon in a room in the UKBA’s office in Liverpool.
Unbeknown to Parliament and the public, the UKBA had carefully stored away over 150 boxes containing unopened correspondence in what appears to be an intentional act to reduce the figures for the agency’s backlog. Whilst this cunning trick did indeed appear to work in the short-term, the Chief Inspector of immigration (an independent official responsible for reviewing the UKBA’s work) disclosed the existence of the boxes and thereby opened the lid on the cleverly conceived ploy. Given that the UKBA’s outstanding caseload seems to be about as manageable as Greece’s national debt, it is far from surprising that the agency has resorted to such actions. Nevertheless, the report provides an alarming insight into the mismanagement of some of the UKBA’s work.
Evidently the UKBA needs to think up more effective ways of dealing with their backlog of work – perhaps putting the unopened letters back into the postal system will make some disappear or, better still, staff should get into the habit of locking doors to keep prying inspectorate eyes out.
By far and away the best solution would be to create incentives for efficient work and to hire sufficiently competent staff to deal with the accumulated and vast workload – both of which are unlikely to happen.