In early January there was widespread national media coverage of the fact that the UKBA had employed a contractor (Capita) to track down illegal immigrants. Capita had then sent text messages to thousands of people stating: "Message from the UK Border Agency: You are required to leave the UK as you no longer have the right to remain".
This became headline news both because of the abruptness of the message (considered by many to be spam) and the fact that many of those who received it were not in the country illegally.
Subsequent explanations have been unconvincing. A Capita spokesman said: "Part of Capita's role is to identify those whose records suggest they are over-stayers but who have already left the UK. If we receive evidence to indicate that an individual has valid leave or has left the UK then records will be updated accordingly".
Adopting a scattergun approach and then expecting those who are here legally to go to the trouble of justifying themselves because official records are wanting does nothing for the agency's credibility and is oppressive because it worries people needlessly; it is rather like emailing all one's friends on spec and asking them all to pay any debts they owe you. It only serves to annoy.
Nevertheless, we are where we are, as they say. If you have received such a message and remain worried you can contact the UKBA to update the record.
Both the UKBA & the Home Secretary have urged that those who have been wrongly contacted by the UKBA or Capita update their records with Capita. You can do this via telephone on 0844 3754 636 or email at CapitaContact@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.