Home AffairsLetter from Rob Whiteman, Chief Executive, UK Border Agency, to the Chair of the Committee, 16 January 2013

Thank you for your letter of 7 January following my evidence session on 18 December. Please find the additional information requested below.

Provision of Information to the Committee

1. Senior colleagues and I became aware of the nature of the Independent Chief Inspector’s likely findings about the checks that had been completed before cases were put into the controlled archive during the course of his inspection visits from the end of May 2012. I told the Committee in my evidence session in September that there were lessons to be learnt as we closed the controlled archives. Jonathan Sedgwick and I wrote to you in November once this matter had been investigated and the full facts established in John Vine’s report.

2. We reported to the Committee on legacy cases that transferred to the Case Audit and Assurance Unit (CAAU) by the Case Resolution Directorate (CRD). As we set out in our response to the Independent Chief Inspector’s report, I have always been clear that due to the quality of case records which pre-date October 2001 (when use of the Case Information Database (CID) commenced), the Agency was not certain all cases had been captured in the data. Appropriate caveats have been provided to the Committee on the data accuracy of this group.

Through the Performance and Compliance Unit (PCU), we are continuing to improve the quality of our data and endeavour to present as accurate and comprehensive a picture as possible to the Committee on our future progress on pre-2007 legacy cases. As the Committee is aware, the Home Secretary has also asked the Independent Chief Inspector to conduct a further investigation into the work of PCU as well as an investigation in to ongoing CAAU operations.

Findings of Deloitte’s Independent Review of Controlled Archive Process prior to Case Closure

3. Our application and screening processes for an asylum or visa application always seek to establish an individual’s personal details. However, since the outset the Agency has been clear that the data held for these legacy cases contained errors and duplication and that records for some of the cases predated the electronic information held on CID. Incomplete records may have occurred during the migration of previously held electronic data onto CID.

4. Deloitte sampled 1,000 cases (1.2% of all closed cases). Home Office analysts have confirmed that this was a robust sample design, given that the cases to review had been selected at random by Deloitte based on unique ID numbers with no inherent sample bias. As we say in our closure report we are confident that the results of the independent review are sufficient and give an accurate reflection of the closure process as a whole.

UKBA’s Controlled Archives Closure Report

5. In our closure report we set out how the 1,502 cases with a hit had no cautions, convictions, warnings or reprimands and that individuals can be on the PNC for non-criminal reasons such as holding a firearm licence. The information returned for these cases noted that no further action was required by the police. We are continuing to work with the police to double check that there is no further information they can supply to us which could help us trace these cases.

For the 24 cases listed as having an impending prosecution and the 83 cases with a PNC hit which post dated April 2011, CAAU are also currently working with the police and courts to trace these individuals or establish definitively whether the files can be closed or need to be included in the live cases.

6. We mean that all cases with a PNC hit prior to April 2011 were checked by CRD before being placed in the controlled archives and any necessary action was taken at that point. Therefore the pre-April 2011 PNC hit on these cases has not been considered again. However, any other subsequent activity after April 2011 on these cases (either on the PNC or on other external databases) will have been picked up and considered as part of the closure process.

Sponsor Notifications

7. Between 31 August and 1 December 2012 we received 101,325 notifications from Tier 4 sponsors. By 18 December we had undertaken the initial two stages of sifting through all of these notifications and had identified 24,980 students who need further consideration for curtailment of their leave.

8. There are 30 FTE staff processing notifications from sponsors and we are in the process of recruiting 35 additional staff.

Rule 35 Reports

9. Reports under Rule 35 of the Detention Centre Rules 2001 can only be made by the medical practitioner (ie doctor) at an immigration removal centre. This is reflected in the guidance contained in the relevant Detention Services Order. In my evidence I spoke about detainees (or their representatives) referring themselves for consideration under Rule 35, but such referrals are not in themselves Rule 35 reports.

Additional Information

10. Between 18 September and 21 November 2012 (the final closure date of the controlled archive—the date of my letter to the Committee), 11,700 cases were transferred to the live cohort after some trace of the individual was found following tracing activity.

11. 13% of FLTR applications made between 1 January and 30 June were still outstanding on 18 December 2012.

12. This is not the case—by 18 December 2012 UKBA had dealt with 9,242 Tier 1 applications made after 4 August 2012.

13. We do not hold this information centrally. We do however record the number of complaints received regarding potentially lost documents: between January and November 2012 the Agency received 720 such complaints (figures for December 2012 are not yet available). Please note that a complaint about a lost document may be unsubstantiated, while some complaints may relate to more than one document.

We take every precaution to ensure personal documents are kept safe. In the event that a file is lost, we are committed to replacing any supporting documents with minimal inconvenience to the person involved. Guidance on retention of valuable documents is being revised and consolidated to ensure consistency of approach across the Agency. In addition the Paperless Programme is working on future plans for a central document bank, which will mean fewer movements of documents between departments.

January 2013

Prepared 25th March 2013