UK & World News
UK Border Agency's '100,000 Unopened Letters'
UK Border Agency (UKBA) staff dealt with a backlog of immigration cases so inefficiently that at one point 100,000 items of post were unopened, says a report.
Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration John Vine found security checks were not carried out properly on old cases and that workers had failed to look at the records of other government departments.
Applications were placed into an archive of unresolved cases after "very minimal work", despite the agency assuring MPs that "exhaustive" checks had been carried out, he concluded.
Mr Vine said: "An examination of controlled archive cases showed that the security checks - which the agency stated were being done on these cases - had not been undertaken routinely or consistently since April 2011.
"I also found that no thorough comparison of data from controlled archive cases was undertaken with other Government departments or financial institutions in order to trace applicants until April 2012.
"This was unacceptable and at odds with the assurances given to the Home Affairs Select Committee that 124,000 cases were only archived after 'exhaustive checks' to trace the applicant had been made".
Mr Vine was asked to evaluate how well UKBA had handled the backlog of thousands of unresolved immigration cases.
In March 2011, there were 147,000 unfinished cases that were passed to an audit unit tasked with dealing with the backlog.
Mr Vine said he believed little had been done to try to resolve the cases before they were passed over.
He said that at one point more than 150 boxes of post, including letters from applicants, MPs and lawyers, lay unopened.
Some asylum seekers who had no grounds to stay in the UK accrued the right to remain in the country because they were waiting so long for their cases to be resolved.
"Through the inefficiency and delay of the agency, those who would otherwise have faced removal will have accrued rights to remain in the UK," Mr Vine said.
He also criticised "poor" customer service and said that a lack of resources meant that deadlines were often missed, even when legal action was threatened.
In a sample of 135 files examined as part of the inspection, each case had lain dormant for an average of 87 months - more than seven years - before they were reopened in 2010 for consideration.
The shortest period of inactivity was six months - the longest was an astonishing 17 years and nine months.
A total of 115 cases were found to have entered the UK illegally, and there were only 10 cases where active efforts had been made to trace absconders.
Only 34 applicants had been recorded as absconders on the police national computer.
The Chief Inspector made a series of recommendations to UKBA, including routine checks against police records and making a public commitment to resolve the backlog within a fixed timeframe.
what do you think?
Wonder if the 1,000 staff cuts had anything to do with it? Answers on a postcard.
You can wonder no more Chris - I know Orange only publishes what they you want you to see on this site. From other sources (not the Sun or the Mail), the problems go far back to 2006. I know the present Government was not in power then, but the same problems exist now as then, so the staff cuts have nothing at all to do with it. If you recall, John Reid was the Home Secretary and he stated that the Home office was "not fit for purpose", and that was in 2006.
The cuts might have something to do with it - 10 years ago they had enough staff to open them and chuck them straight in the bin! - Told to me by a Customs & Excise Administrator around 2002/03 - said it was standard practice in the civil service then!
Is anyone even REMOTELY surprised? Cut the number of staff to the bare bone then moan when time serving penpushers and utterly inept management make an utter horlicks of a vital service.
Sounds like me with letters from the bank
What can you say other than its not fit for purpose. Get shot of it, get the police to do it and fire all the top civil servants within UKBA who are useless
Well its nice to know are borders are safe in their hands. . You might as well employ the Chuckle Brothers. . Is there any part of our government/civil service that isnt run by incompetants?
Arent they incharge of imigration? "To me to you to me to you.ok you can stay!"
Surely nobody is surprised by this
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