Supplementary notes by the Home Office
LETTER TO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE FROM
THE HOME SECRETARY
I gave evidence to the Committee on 7 November as
part of the above inquiry and undertook to write with further
information on a number of points.
The Committee expressed interest in the periods
of entry granted to those arriving at United Kingdom ports with
work permits. Leave to enter will normally be for the length of
the permit. This can range from a few days (eg a performer entering
for a specific engagement for which a permit is required) to five
The Overseas Labour Service (OLS) introduced
five-year permits on 1 November 2000. The previous maximum period
for which a work permit would be issued was four years. This is
an outcome of the Work Permit Review and reflected a wish by individual
work permit holders to plan the time of their settlement applications
in line with their employer's needs. Individuals will continue
to be able to seek settlement following four years continuous
residence in the United Kingdom as a work permit holder.
The reorganisation of the Immigration and Nationality
Directorate took place towards the end of 1998. In 1998, 84 per
cent of appeals determined by adjudicators were dismissed and
9 per cent were allowed. The percentage of dismissed appeals in
January this year was 74 per cent; it rose to 85 per cent in August
and is currently 81 per cent. The number of allowed appeals has
dropped from 23 per cent in January to a current level of 16 per
cent. The percentage of dismissed appeals so far during this calendar
year is therefore on a par with that prior to IND reorganisation.
As the Integrated Casework Directorate was set
up with multi-skilled teams dealing with both asylum and immigration
casework, figures on the breakdown of staff dealing with differing
types of case were not kept centrally. However, by mid 1999 it
had become clear that the number of trained asylum caseworkers
in the ICD was significantly lower than in July 1998. Additional
staff to deal with asylum casework were recruited in the Autumn
of 1999. Over the past 12 months some 450 additional asylum caseworkers
have been appointed and located in Croydon, Liverpool and Leeds.
I undertook to provide the Committee with the
numbers of removals of those who had been through the Oakington
Reception Centre and also the proportion of those who go on from
Oakington to be detained in formal detention. The Centre opened
on 20 March and, as of 24 November, a total of 1,965 decisions
refusing asylum have been made. Over 1,770 applicants refused
asylum have appealed; 778 appeals have so far been heard, 96 per
cent of which have been dismissed by an adjudicator. So far 254
failed asylum applicants have been removed or departed voluntarily.
A total of 401 applicants (nearly 15 per cent)
have moved from Oakington and been detained in Immigration Service
detention centres and prisons holding immigration detainees.
There were 7,610 removals of failed asylum seekers
in the first 10 months of the year. We now expect to exceed last
year's total which itself was a record.
HM CUSTOMS AND
The Committee asked about the incident at Dover
on Sunday 18 June, when 60 people were discovered in a refrigerated
lorry that arrived from Zeebrugge, in particular in relation to
the sharing of information with Customs and Excise.
Fifty four men and four women of this human
cargo were dead. They were all in their early twenties and were
Chinese nationals. All the bodies have now been formally identified.
Two survivors were taken to hospital. They subsequently
claimed asylum, which was refused, but they were later granted
exceptional leave to remain in the United Kingdom for four years.
This was in recognition of the traumatic circumstances of their
arrival and also because of their special position in relation
to Kent Police's investigation. They remain important witnesses
to a major crime and are now on the witness protection programme.
The driver of the lorry, a Dutch national, was
arrested. Whilst there is an on-going investigation into potential
criminal offences, no further details may be given. The incident
continues to be the subject of a major criminal investigation
by the Kent police.
The Immigration Service cannot search every
lorry arriving at ports. For example, in a single day in June,
the month in which the incident occurred, there were 3,257 lorries
arriving at Dover. Therefore, the Immigration Service works closely
with other agencies such as Customs and Excise, targeting those
vehicles they believe are suspect using detection equipment and
the new provisions within the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
to obtain information from carriers. This particular lorry was
intercepted following selection by Customs and Excise for anti
You asked about systems in place for sharing
information with other agencies, and in particular whether there
were any difficulties with the sharing of information with Customs
The statutory gateway provisions of the Immigration
and Asylum Act 1999 enable the exchange of information between
the Immigration Service and other law enforcement agencies, including
Customs and Excise. As previously reported, the gateways allow
information to be shared for specified purposes which broadly
equate with each agency's statutory functions so that where the
Immigration Service holds information useful for Customs and Excise
purposes, it will pass that information on. In addition, Customs
and Excise will have routine access to the information specified
in Part I of the Passenger Information Order, to the extent that
it is collected from carriers by the Immigration Service, because
they have identified a legitimate reason for access to that information.
There is a good and improving level of co-operation
between the Immigration Service and Customs and Excise at local
level. At Dover, there is regular exchange of targeted intelligence
and plans are in hand to establish a Joint Intelligence Unit there,
placing co-operation on a more formalised footing and mirroring
arrangements already in existence at Heathrow. By the very nature
of their work, Customs and Excise detect many clandestines and
co-operation in this area is excellent. At a strategic level,
a recent meeting with Customs and Excise officials has been extremely
positive. In addition, the Immigration Service has commenced a
detailed study of data-sharing issues and will seek to extend
access to information to which it has a legitimate entitlement,
including information held by carriers. With the Immigration Service
chairing the Border Agency Working Group next year, we anticipate
working together towards exchanging more information while ensuring
that we comply with our legal obligations.
The Committee will also wish to be made aware
of a revised management structure, which was introduced in the
Immigration Service in October 2000.
The Immigration Service is undergoing a rapid
growth in staffing throughout the United Kingdom as part of a
strategy to increase removals. A revised management structure
has been introduced to cater for this growth. Emphasis is being
placed upon a more unified Immigration Service with cross functional
responsibilities rather than the separate roles of the Directorates
as described in section 1.2 of the memorandum of evidence submitted
to the Committee on 22 May 2000.
The Directorate titles of Immigration Service
Ports Directorate and Immigration Service Enforcement Directorate
have been discontinued. The Immigration Service now has two Directors
responsible for "Immigration Service Regional Operations"
and "Immigration Service South East Operations".
4 December 2000