Officials ‘lose track’ of illegal immigrants
Tracking absconders down ‘not seen as a priority’
AT LEAST 150,000 migrants have been refused permission to stay in the UK but the authorities do not know how many have left, a watchdog said today.
John Vine, chief inspector of the UK Border Agency, said there is no clear strategy to find out what proportion of this growing number of migrants is still in the UK illegally.
Tracking these absconders down and removing them from the country is not seen as a priority for the agency, and there is no clear plan to ensure the cases do not just become another backlog to deal with, Mr Vine said.
He added: “There are over 150,000 cases nationally of migrants who have been refused an extension of stay in the UK.
“The agency does not know how many of these individuals have left the country or who are waiting to be removed.
“I believe it can and must do more to demonstrate it is dealing with this issue in a more proactive manner.”
The extent of the problems emerged in an inspection of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight local immigration team at the end of last year.
Cases involving migrants in the UK, such as students, who had been refused an extension of stay were put in a so-called migration refusal pool and told they must leave within 28 days, the report showed.
Staff underestimated the scale of the problem by about two-thirds, gauging there were between 400 and 600 cases when there were 1,893 in the area on December 12, Mr Vine said.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said there had been no effective strategy under the last government to ensure migrants left at the end of their time in the UK.