It has recently been revealed that more than half of UK police forces may be reporting victims of crime to the Home Office Immigration Enforcement Department. Allegedly, once police officers establish that the victim might be in the UK illegally, they pass the person’s information to the Home Office and in addition to the allegation of crime being investigated, the victim’s immigration status is then also scrutinised by immigration officers.
Some victims claim to have been arrested and sent to detention centres shortly after reporting a crime and they would reportedly have faced deportation if it were not for the last minute involvement of their solicitors. It is also alleged that witnesses of crimes who have precarious immigration statuses are reported to the Home Office by police forces.
If true, the situation is alarming as these people are usually victims of domestic violence or trafficking, who often suffer from serious physical and psychological effects. Knowing that they will be interviewed and have their immigration status questioned, victims and witnesses with uncertain immigration statuses are often too scared to report crimes, fearing that they will be referred to the Home Office and deported. Many victims of crimes are not aware that as part of an investigation, police carry out background checks on the victim as well as the suspect.
Migrant rights activists have harshly criticised this practice, warning that it could “lead to a two-tier justice system” where “those with precarious status feel they cannot trust the police with their safety”. Following recent backlash at the controversial agreement under which the NHS shared patients’ data with the Home Office, the government was criticised and it was said that “the obsession with making the UK a hostile place for foreign people at any human cost has put border controls in our hospitals, our schools and our banks – but targeting victims of crime is a new low.”
In response to the angry public reaction, the National Police Chiefs’ Council stated that: “the police priority is to protect victims and investigate crime” and that they “are considering whether further advice to police forces is required”.
Gherson are experts in assisting with various immigration matters. If you need assistance or wish to receive some more information regarding your immigration matters, please contact us.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.