The work of the Immigration Directorates (October - December 2013) - Home Affairs Committee Contents

4  Immigration Enforcement

The Migration Refusal Pool

Improved Performance

-  At the end of Q4 2013, there were 179,932 cases in the Migration Refusal Pool (MRP) down from 182,251 in the previous quarter

-  By the end of Q4 2013, Capita has assessed 248,800 cases. Of these, 47,300 (19%) cases were confirmed as departed.

-  121,000 (49%) of cases were assessed as having a barrier to removal and were passed back to the Home Office. A further 50,000 (20%) cases had the confirmed outcome that no contact can be made.

Suspension and revocation of sponsor licences

50. Sponsors are required to inform UKVI if there is a change in certain circumstances regarding the migrant they have sponsored, for example if a person with a Tier 2 visa no longer works for the sponsoring employer. If the information provided by the sponsor about the change in circumstances suggest that the employee is in breach of their visa then enforcement action can be taken against the employee. Employers that qualify for a Tier 2 sponsorship licence are required to follow various procedures, for example maintaining accurate records. If the Home Office suspects that a sponsor is not acting according to the stipulated criteria then they may investigate the sponsor. This can lead to the licence being either suspended, downgraded or revoked.

Non-compliance notifications

The chart below shows the number of notifications of potential sponsor non-compliance received.

-  27,078 notifications of potential non-compliance were received in Q4 2013 for Tier 4, up from 21,678 in the previous quarter.

-  5,518 notifications were received in Q4 2013 for Tiers 2 and 5, down from 5,717 in the previous quarter.

-  A total of 23,252 notifications of potential non-compliance were followed up in Q4 2013, up from 19,779 in the previous quarter.

-  131 Tier 2 sponsors had their licenses revoked in Q4 2013, down from 174 in the previous quarter. 214 Tier 2 sponsors had their licenses suspended, up from 77 in the previous quarter.

-  12 Tier 4 sponsors had their licenses revoked in Q4 2013, down from 23 in the previous quarter. 23 Tier 4 sponsors had their licenses suspended, down from 46 in the previous quarter.

-  11 Tier 5 sponsors had their licenses revoked in Q4 2013, down from 18 in the previous quarter. 31 Tier 5 sponsors had their licenses suspended, up from 11 in the previous quarter.


51. In June 2014, the Home Office suspended the sponsor licences of Glyndwr University, the University of West London and at the University of Bedfordshire, and 57 privately operated further education colleges following abuse of the English language test that overseas students take to demonstrate they can speak English at an appropriate level. On 24 June, James Brokenshire, Immigration and Security Minister, told the House that if students had to cheat to pass an English language test, then it was it was "highly doubtful that many of the colleges, and some universities, that sponsored them in numbers were fulfilling their duties as "highly-trusted sponsors".[62] In a letter to the Committee, Mr Brokenshire revealed that there may have been as many as 48,000 test results of serious concern, and that:

    UKVI and immigration enforcement officers have been investigating many of these colleges and universities because of wider concerns about their conduct. The evidence they have provided of what is going on in these institutions is cause for serious concern.[63]

52. The recent episode of English Language testing abuse illustrates the need for UKVI and Immigration Enforcement to continue to inspect education providers, and for as many of the visits as possible to be unannounced. We note that the greatest proportion of unannounced follow-up visits is overwhelmingly to Tier 2 employers and that a much smaller number is to education sponsors under Tier 4. The Home Office should explain why the number of unannounced visits are so overwhelmingly for Tier 2 employers rather than Tier 4 education providers.

53. We have repeatedly called on the Home Office to increase the number of unannounced follow-up visits to visa sponsors and we welcome the dramatic improvement during 2013.

54. While we entirely support the government's aim to crack down on bogus colleges and any organisations that have wilfully helped people to evade immigration controls, it is not appropriate to punish institutions where there is no evidence to support allegations of wrongdoing. The Home Office should act promptly to tell suspended organisations exactly what they are accused of, and to immediately end suspensions unless there is clear evidence.

Immigration detention


Rule 35 of the detention Centre Rules states that medical practitioners are required to report to the Home Office any detainee whose health is likely to be injuriously affected by detention or any condition of detention and any detainee they are concerned may be a victim of torture

Worst Performance

The chart below shows the number of Rule 35 Reports made to the Department since the beginning of 2012.

-  436 reports under Rule 35 were made in Q4 2013. This is an increase from 431 in Q3 2013.

-  In Q4 2013 only 9% of reports under Rule 35 resulted in the individual being released.

56. In Q3 2013 there were 431 Rule 35 Reports submitted but only 9% of these reports led to a person being released. Q4 had a similar pattern, with 436 Rule 35 Reports and only 9% of the Reports leading to a release. We have heard concerns about access to doctors in Immigration Removal Centres, inconsistent quality of Rule 35 reports and the mismanagement of detainees' healthcare.[64] An unannounced inspection of Immigration Removal Centre Harmondsworth by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons also criticized the application of Rule 35 following the death of Alois Dvorzac, an 84 year old Canadian citizen on his way to Slovenia, taken off the plane at Gatwick and detained in Harmondsworth. The HMIP Report said:

    The Rule 35 process did not provide assurance that the most vulnerable would be protected against the effects of detention [...].All 11 reports that we examined in detail concerned torture and contained body maps but many were of poor quality. Seven reports contained no diagnostic findings and did not comment on whether the medical evidence was consistent with the reported ill-treatment. In five of the seven cases, the Home Office referred to the lack of diagnostic comment as a reason for maintaining detention.[65]

On 30 January, Mr Dvorzac was seen by a doctor who declared him unfit for detention and said he should be receiving social care. He was not released from detention, but transported back and forth to hospital in handcuffs, before finally passing away on 10 February. He died wearing handcuffs.[66]

57. We raised concerns about the effectiveness of Rule 35 Reports with the Home Office in April. The Immigration Minister told the Committee that there had been new guidance and instruction on completing Rule 35 reports, mandatory training for officers in immigration detention, and there would be an audit of Rule 35 processes between April and June 2013.[67] The Minister wrote to the Committee later to provide more detail on the audit:

    The Home Office's Quality Audit Team, whose role is to assess the quality of decision-making in asylum and other cases, will carry out an assessment of Rule 35 casework between April and June 2014. This will involve an examination of a random sample of 60 cases from the first quarter of 2014 and will consider whether all mandatory processes and actions, as set out in Rule 35 of the Detention Centre Rules 2001 and the Rule 35 Asylum Instruction, have been adhered to. On the basis of its findings, it will identify good practice and make recommendations for improvement where appropriate.[68]

58. We welcome the audit of Rule 35 casework and look forward to seeing the results, and what action the Home Office will take in light of the audit. We are still concerned that such a small percentage of Rule 35 Reports lead to release. We will continue to look at this subject as part of our ongoing work into Immigration Removal Centres.


Improved performance

The chart below shows the number of children leaving immigration detention when they had been held for more than 3 days.

-  In Q4 2013 63 children entered immigration detention, down from 65 in the previous quarter. 67 children left immigration detention in Q4 2013, up from 63 in the previous quarter.

-  Most children who leave detention do so within a short period - 73% had been held for less than 3 days in Q4 2013.

Foreign national offenders

Foreign National Offenders released from prison and transferred to immigration detention

-  In Q4 2013 1,029 FNOs were released from prison and transferred to immigration detention, down from 1,050 in the previous quarter.

-  In Q4 2013 2 FNOs were released without consideration for deportation.

Foreign National Offenders released into the community

Worse Performance

-  336 ex-FNOs eligible for deportation were released into the community in Q4 2013, 96% of their cases were outstanding, i.e. the Home Office would still like to deport them.

The chart below shows outstanding FNOs released from prison by status.

Removing Foreign National Offenders - Worse performance

-   It took 111 days on average to deport an ex-FNO in Q4 2013, up from 99 days in the previous quarter.

-  There were 305 failed removal attempts in Q4 2013, up from 265 in the previous quarter.

-  44% of removals were carried out during the Early Release Scheme period in Q4 2013. 29% of removals were carried out under the Facilitated Returns Scheme in Q4 2013.

Ex foreign national offenders living in the community

The chart below shows there were 4,153 ex FNOs living in the community in Q4 2013, compared to 4,169 in the previous quarter. The proportion of ex FNOs living in the community over two years is 66%.

59. Following the evidence session on 1 April 2014, the Home Office sent the Committee a list of the Foreign National Offenders by nationality. The list is published by the Ministry of Justice and is available on their website.[69]

60. The Prime Minister gave evidence to the Liaison Committee in May, and was asked about measures to reduce the number of foreign national offenders in the UK. He said:

    I am willing to look at anything. This is one of my bugbears. […] Since 2010, 19,000 foreign national offenders have been removed, but it is really difficult to get this fixed and I find it immensely frustrating, because having all these people in our prisons when they should be elsewhere is an enormous waste of money. I am very happy to look at the idea of finding out nationality at the point of sentence. I have assigned seven Ministers to the various countries to sort out prisoner transfer agreements with Nigeria, Vietnam and China. So that is one avenue that we are taking. We have got the European prisoner transfer agreement that has not kicked in with some of the key countries, such as Poland, and we need to get that fixed.[70]

61. In our previous report we recommended that the Home Office extend Operation Nexus, an initiative in London where immigration officers are embedded in police custody suites to identify foreign nationals at the point of arrest, to other parts of the country. We welcome that the operating model has been extended to the West Midlands and Greater Manchester, and that the Home Office is considering extending the initiative further. The purpose of Operation Nexus is to identify and manage foreign national offenders more effectively. Foreign National Offenders currently make up about 13% of the prison population. As the Prime Minister said, having all these people in our prisons is an enormous waste of money. Reducing the number of Foreign National Offenders in our prisons is in all our interests, and finding ways to identify those criminals who could be deported before they enter prison would be an enormous help. The Home Office should publicise any positive impact that Operation Nexus has had and, in particular, the number of foreign nationals identified as foreign nationals and deported as a result. We note the positive steps taken towards starting the deportation process early as part of Operation Nexus. We recommend that the Government go further and compel offenders to prove their nationality at the point of sentencing or face penal sanctions. This would enable the Home Office to start the process of deportation of offenders more quickly and to ensure it runs more smoothly.

62. We also commented in our last report on the mechanism for identifying and stopping undesirable people from entering the country. A recent report from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman detailed a case where a concerned mother, Mrs A, alerted the Home Office that a foreign national, at the time in a relationship with Mrs A's daughter, and with a criminal record for violent offences that they had lied about, was about to come into the country. Mrs A provided the Home Office with information but they did not act to stop the individual entering the country, check if he had entered the country, or act once Mrs A again informed them of her concerns that he had entered the country. The man was finally arrest five months later, and only after he had "embarked upon a prolonged and escalating campaign against Mrs A's daughter and her family" including setting fire to Mrs A's house. The Ombudsman's report explained that Mrs A gave the Home Office information on the foreign national's flight two working days before he was due to arrive and yet his details were only added to the watchlist, or warnings index, after he had arrived and passed through border control.

63. As a result of the Ombudsman's report, the Home Office will carry out and publish the outcomes of three separate reviews into: checking visa applicants' statements about their overseas criminal records and good character, handling allegations including their use of and access to the watchlist, and dealing with correspondence.[71]

64. The case detailed in the Parliamentary Ombudsman's report clearly shows the importance of constantly updating and monitoring the watchlist. The Home Office must act upon the Ombudsman's report and ensure that cases similar to that of Mrs A's family are not repeated.

62   HC Deb 24 June 2014, col 206 Back

63   Letter from James Brokenshire to the Chair, Abuse of immigration student route, 25 June 2014 Back

64   DQ40013 Medical Justice Back

65   HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre, August 2013, Para 1.81 Back

66   Ibid., Para 1.86 Back

67   Q 105 Back

68   Letter from James Brokenshire to the Chair, Abuse of immigration student route, 25 June 2014 Back

69 Back

70   Oral evidence taken before the Liaison Committee, 13 May 2014, Q 44 Back

71   Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Home Office failures put a family in danger: A report by the Parliamentary Ombudsman on an investigation into a complaint by Mrs A and her family about the Home Office, July 2014 Back

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Prepared 25 July 2014