The long-awaited ‘Lesson Learned Review’, containing an in-depth analysis of the reasons for and the consequences of the Windrush Scandal, has now finally been released by the Home Secretary.
The review addresses the 2018 immigration scandal which led to hundreds of people being denied their rights and dozens being wrongfully deported, as they were caught up in legislative measures designed for illegal immigrants (please see our recent article for more details).
The report – a 276-page document based on a thorough investigation of what happened – aimed to leave no stone unturned. The review concluded that the Windrush Scandal was 'foreseeable and avoidable' and happened largely due to ‘systemic operational failings' and 'institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race' within the Home Office, albeit that it was also rooted in the overly complex immigration legislation of the middle of the last century. The Home Office was not openly accused of institutional racism, but features 'consistent with some elements' of its definition were found to be present in the department’s practices.
The review contained several case studies illustrating its findings and made as many as 30 practical recommendations to the Home Office, including the need to ‘acknowledge failings’, ‘run a programme of reconciliation events’, ‘publish a comprehensive improvement plan within six months’ and ‘open itself up to greater external scrutiny’.
The document also addressed the infamous ‘hostile / compliant environment policy’, meaning the set of measures implemented by the government since 2012 with the aim of making staying in the UK for irregular migrants progressively harder, in order to prompt them to leave voluntarily. The review identified the thoughtless implementation of the potentially hazardous policy as one of the causes of the scandal and called on the Home Office ‘to undertake a full review and evaluation’ of it.
The review was initially supposed to have been published six months ago, in September 2019. However, publication was postponed in order to give officials related to the scandal a chance to respond to the findings before they were made public. This is a standard process officially known as Maxwellisation, and has been a long-standing practice in the UK.
What makes the current situation unusual, however, is the timing of the report’s release, which coincided with the growing global coronavirus public health crisis. British social activists and politicians expressed concern that the review may not cause the public outrage and governmental action that was expected and hoped for, given that the public’s attention is currently focused on Covid-19 updates and the pandemic’s impact on the UK economy.
Only time will tell whether any actions resulting from the review will be delayed in view of the current situation. However, it is undisputable that the review has addressed many long-standing issues within the UK immigration system, which may potentially become more acute during and after the current crisis, unless properly addressed.
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.
Paralegal in our Complex Case team