When a person is granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK, or refugee status, or British nationality, they acquire important rights. In the case of British citizenship, these include the unrestricted right of entry to the UK. Once granted, the removal of any of these forms of “status” is a serious step, with profound consequences for those affected, and the Home Office’s actions in relation to the removal of a person’s status must therefore be considered, justified in law and policy, and applied consistently.
In this inspection, I examined the efficiency and effectiveness of the Home Office’s processes for reviewing and removing a person’s status, specifically how cases are identified for review, how they are progressed, and the quality of Home Office decisions.
Three Home Office business areas, working to 3 different Directors General, are responsible for reviewing cases and deciding (or recommending to the Home Secretary) that a person’s status be removed. The inspection found that there was little or no communication between the 3 areas.
Each business area deals with different categories of persons: foreign national offenders; persons posing a threat to national security; and, anyone with ILR, refugee status, or British nationality. The 3 use different mechanisms to remove a person’s status. However, the effect is the same: the person becomes liable to removal from the UK, or to refusal of entry if outside the country at the time.
Therefore, in the interests of efficiency, effectiveness, and above all consistency, I have recommended that the 3 areas take steps to share ‘best practice’, lessons learned, and how they are interpreting and applying relevant legislation and policies, and that the Home Office nominates one person to oversee and take responsibility for ensuring that this is happening.
Overall, this inspection identified significant room for improvement. In fairness to the Home Office, this had already been recognised in the largest of the 3 business areas, and I hope my report will give added impetus to its efforts to improve.
The Home Secretary has decided to redact part of my report for reasons of national security, as she is empowered to do under the UK Borders Act 2007. The published report shows where these redactions have been made.
I do not believe that these redactions materially affect the understanding of my overall findings or recommendations.