A third of immigration arrests lead to deportation

Border control at Edinburgh Airport - 10 February 2014

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Just over a third of immigration arrests following tip-offs from the public resulted in deportation in 2013, the Home Office has revealed.

Figures show 4,535 arrests were made for immigration offences after allegations by members of the public.

Of these, 1,585 people were removed from Britain, and only 15 cases prompted criminal prosecutions.

Labour said it showed the government "can't get a grip on illegal immigration".

Shadow immigration minister David Hanson, who obtained the figures in a written parliamentary answer from immigration minister James Brokenshire, described the figures as "a shocking record and one that the government should be ashamed of".

'Shambolic'

A Home Office spokesperson responded that the immigration system left in place by the previous Labour government "was shambolic and open to abuse".

"We are building a system that is fair to British citizens and legitimate migrants and tough on those who abuse the system and flout the law," the spokesperson added.

"We take all reports of illegal immigrants in the UK seriously, but not all the information we receive is accurate. When tip-offs do lead to arrests, there are many legal barriers that can prevent speedy deportation."

The government is trying to remove these "barriers" by making it easier to deport foreign criminals and migrants who are in the UK illegally, through the Immigration Bill currently before Parliament.

The new legislation replaces several different powers to make a removal decision with a single power to remove a person who requires leave to enter or remain in the UK but does not have it.

The bill also cuts the number of grounds for appeal against deportation from 17 to four and allows foreign criminals to be deported before the outcome of their appeal is known, as long as they do not face "serious irreversible harm" at home.

'Limited and targeted'

The proposed reforms have broad support from Labour and other parties, but the bill's final wording has yet to be agreed after peers demanded several changes as it passed through the House of Lords.

Among the plans the government will have to reconsider is its proposal to make foreign-born terror suspects "stateless".

MPs backed the move in January but peers were unhappy.

They defeated the government on this point, voting in favour of a parliamentary committee to consider whether the policy should go ahead.

That was despite assurances from the Home Office Minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach, who said any decision to strip someone of their citizenship would not be taken lightly and would only be used in a "limited and targeted way".

The bill has another outing in the Lords on 6 May before MPs get to review peers' changes.

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