With the recent split of Border Force from UKBA and the subsequent loss of Agency status, the failings and criticism of UKBA has been widely reported in the media. Centre to the evaluation of the performance of UKBA since its inception in 2008 is the Independence Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICI). The role of the ICI was created to provide an independent, external assessment of the Home Office, both in the UK and abroad and reports directly to the Home Secretary.
John Vine, who was appointed in 2007, currently holds the position. Mr Vine is the former Chief Constable of Tayside Police and has recently accepted an offer from the Home Secretary to extend his tenure until July 2015. His office carries out inspections designed to assess how the UK immigration authorities are executing the immigration policies and law.
The latest bad press to hit UKBA is their reported failure to pursue over 3,000 Police National Computer hits on asylum claimants considered “missing” by UKBA. These findings are from the 26thJune 2013 published ICI report detailing a follow-up inspection of UKBA’s handling of legacy asylum casework from 2012, including not doing thorough checks on the claimants thought to have disappeared. In November 2012, the ICI criticised UKBA for failing to deal with the asylum case backlog of some 450,000 undecided cases discovered after an internal review in 2006. UKBA were given recommendations for performance improvement agreed to be implemented by the Home Office. In December 2012, the Home Secretary asked the ICI to report in 2013 on UKBA’s progress on implementing the recommendations.
At the start of 2013 there were still 310,000 legacy cases awaiting decision. The ICI’s 26th June report found that whilst UKBA had written to upwards of 105,000 legacy asylum claimants, they closed 80,300 due to UKBA’s inability to find the claimant. The ICI’s inspection found that UKBA caseworkers had failed to act on positive matches of “missing” claimants found on the Police National Computer.
The ICI’s inspection plans for 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 are listed on his office’s website. These include inspections into border security at Heathrow and the juxtaposed controls operating in Paris, as well as a continued inspection on the points-based system focusing on Tier 1. All published ICI inspection reports are available through the ICI’s website.