A constituent called my office this week waiting to hear from the Home Office about her visa. She is in the UK legally; yet – exasperated – she tells me that she hasn’t heard anything for six months. She wanted me to call them. Of course I will, but I told her that not hearing for six months was absolutely nothing new – and, in fact, 18 months is more likely the norm.
To say that the Ministry of the Interior is not functioning would be the understatement of the century. All week we have seen how they have created backlogs in the processing of asylum applications, leaving thousands of people in detention longer than the authorized limits.
For those coming out of detention sites, we’ve seen how the same backlog means adult asylum seekers wait 400 odd days for an initial decision, some children wait over 500 days, all while costing taxpayers $7 million of pounds sterling. a day to welcome them while waiting.
More than 200 children have disappeared in the past year – likely at the hands of traffickers and abusers here in the UK while they waited. Twelve years of Conservative rule and decision-making in this ministry has broken the system.
Suella Braverman, when she’s not leaking government information to her backbench buddies, could take a look at some of the failures in decision-making when it comes to supporting victims of human trafficking. They are people forced into servitude, victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation, organ trafficking and crime. They are incredibly vulnerable and need support.
When I worked in human trafficking services, the standard time agreed for a decision was 45 days. What happened? Suella Braverman would have you believe (because I don’t think she knows anything about the subject matter she is dealing with) that the reason this has increased is because of people making false claims of being victim of modern slavery in order to help their immigration status.
I’ve heard her talk about it several times. Well, it might surprise the Home Secretary that in fact the largest group of victims of this group is British. British citizens are the largest group of victims of modern slavery returned to our system. As for all fictitious cases, 91% of cases last year were found to be real victims of slavery by the Home Office itself.
When it comes to managing responses to domestic violence for our country, the Home Office was again this week forced to respond to another damning report about police oversight that allowed serial abusers to become police officers. The Home Secretary’s response was basically “it’s not our fault, guv!”.
Every time another report comes out about how victims are being left behind by our criminal justice system, the government says how awful domestic violence is and throws lines about zero tolerance. Then nothing changes.
Over the past two years, Home Office ministers have acted in dismay and promised change after the murder of Sarah Everard by an serving officer, after the horrific murders of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, after the shameful case of Child Q, after the shocking Charing Crossroads Station Report, after Stephen Port’s investigation.
In Parliament this week, the Home Secretary resisted Labor calls for mandatory safeguards and professional standards, led from above, in all police forces across the country. He said “we expect police forces to all adopt” the recommendations of the damning report. Well: if he expects it, it will be fine. Too bad there isn’t an overarching government department that could do something better than ‘hope’ and ‘expect change’.
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I this week sued the Home Office over a response they should have made by August following a coroner’s report linking domestic violence and suicide deaths. The coroner has made recommendations to the government following the death of Jessica Louise Laverack. The Home Office simply didn’t bother to respond by the deadline to say what it will do about it. Perhaps there is also a delay in responding to coroners’ recommendations? I wouldn’t be surprised.
Suella Braverman should never have returned to her job after the security breaches, but the prime minister had to do it for party unity. If only his most pressing concern wasn’t party unity, but putting someone in a position who could do the all-important job of sorting out the absolute mess on all fronts at the Home Office.
Twelve years of conservative rule have left everything in absolute disarray. None of this was supposed to be like this. Currently, the only people benefiting from the terrible leadership on the UK Home Office is the Rwandan government – which has been given £140m to provide zero services. Remember that when you try to renew your passport, it takes months.