Calls for Home Office shake up after critical reports are branded ‘damning indictment’ of government
A watchdog’s report exposing failures in the response to migrant crossings are a “damning indictment” of government policy, according to critics.
Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration David Neal found the Home Office’s performance was “poor” and said the system was “overwhelmed”.
Political opponents said the findings demonstrated the scale of incompetency in government while charities claimed there were failings in the duty of care of public bodies towards migrants.
Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper (pictured) said: “This report is a truly damning indictment of a Conservative Government which has badly lost control of border security.”
She branded findings which revealed fingerprints and photographs were not taken from every migrant that arrives in the UK as “flabbergasting”, saying that if people can disappear without any biometrics checks this puts “national security at risk and encourages criminal trafficking gangs”.
“This is the third highly critical report on the chaos in the Government’s border operations in a week following yesterday’s independent review and the cross-party committee report on Monday. Where is the Home Secretary?
“It’s a total disgrace that she has refused to meet the inspector, tried to bury his report, and is now in hiding. The Conservatives are clearly completely unable to govern and failing to function.”
She told BBC Radio 4’s World At One Programme that the Home Office had tried to “hide” the critical report and rejected the department’s assurances things had already changed for the better.
“They published it only on the final day of Parliament so that they can’t be asked questions on it in Parliament.”
The Liberal Democrats called for a “shake up” of the Home Office and said the report laid bare a “shocking level of incompetency and the buck stops with Priti Patel.”
The party’s home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael said: “She has presided over a growing humanitarian crisis on our own shores and should be sacked immediately.”
Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “This report is a damning indictment of the Home Office which has clearly been failing in its duty of care to vulnerable and unaccompanied children and causing huge distress and harm as a result.
“The steps set out by the Home Office in response to the report fail to go far enough in making desperately needed reforms and we call on ministers to take urgent steps to address this appalling situation.”
Mr Neal said the Home Office team tasked with responding to the crisis, the Clandestine Channel Threat Command led by Dan O’Mahoney, was “pulled between day-to-day operations and developing a deterrent, as well as responding to the constant requests for strategic briefings”.
His report also found the ability of staff to recognise that identifying trafficking victims on arrival could “feed the intelligence cycle” and reveal information about organised crime gangs was “limited”.
Data, described as the “lifeblood of decision-making”, was found to be “inexcusably awful”.
Mr Neal added: “Extreme operational conditions, where resources are stretched, will inevitably lead to some degradation in data. Staff on the ground are doing their very best, but they are tired.”
He called on the department to “regularise their response” in preparation for rising numbers of arrivals throughout the year.
The Home Office claimed much of the report was now “historic character and the criticisms identified reflect processes and procedures not now followed under the new operation”.
But Mr Neal rejected this, highlighting examples of practices continuing even in May.
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