Call for an independent commission on Windrush and the hostile environment

By agency reporter
April 26, 2018

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) and Liberty have called for the appointment of an Independent Commission to review the workings of the Home Office and the legal framework of the ‘hostile environment’.

Alongside the call, JCWI and Liberty have published a Dossier of Failure, detailing the need for an Independent Commission into the systematic failures which culminated in the Windrush scandal.

JCWI and Liberty have decided to release the dossier following a private JCWI meeting with No 10 last week in which it became clear that the Prime Minister had no intention of dealing adequately with the failures that led to the Windrush scandal. Instead, No 10 used the meeting to attempt to obtain a public statement from JCWI backing the Home Office. JCWI refused to make such a statement.

The Dossier of Failure establishes:

  • The Home Office’s deliberate intent in creating the hostile environment which resulted in the Windrush scandal
  • That the Home Office knew before and after they implemented the hostile environment that it would result in problems for people legally resident and British citizens who did not have the right documents
  • The Home Office’s failure to heed multiple warnings about the harmful impact of the hostile environment
  • The Home Office’s failure, despite recommendations, to monitor the impact of the hostile environment
  • That Home Office decision making is error-prone and often arbitrary
  • That the government has repeatedly tried to reduce scrutiny and corrective mechanisms in the Home Office, rather than dealing with problems

In Parliament, an Early Day Motion (EDM) has been tabled by Caroline Lucas MP, co-leader of the Green Party, calling for an Independent Commission. It is co-sponsored by MPs  David Lammy, Layla Moran, Liz Saville Roberts, Stuart MacDonald and Emma Reynolds. It is expected to attract cross-party support.

Because of the Prime Minister’s role as Home Secretary between 2010 and 2016, JCWI believes only an independent commission, operating independently from the government, can properly investigate the failure of the Home Office and the decisions which led to the Windrush scandal.

Satbir Singh, Chief Executive of JCWI, said, "It is not my job to rehabilitate the shattered reputation of the Home Office. It is an indictment of just how out of touch Theresa May is with the outrage her actions have caused that No 10 could expect JCWI to put out a statement in support of their actions, while they still cling to her hostile environment.

"The treatment of the Windrush generation is no accident. It is precisely what happens when an anti-immigrant dogma takes over at the Home Office. Despite warnings, Theresa May chose to create a system that was designed to be as hostile as possible, whatever the cost. What on earth did she think the consequences would be?

"Families have been torn apart, left destitute and removed or thrown into detention without due process. It is no surprise that assurances from the Home Secretary now have such limited credibility. Only a full, independent inquiry into Home Office policy and practice will help restore that trust."

Martha Spurrier, Director of Liberty, said: "The hostile environment has invaded every aspect of life in the UK. Trusted public servants have been turned into border guards, leaving people scared to send their children to school and too afraid to seek urgent medical help. People are being forced into destitution and threatened with having their children taken away if they ask for support. We now know people with leave to remain have had their records destroyed and been told to get out."

"A proper, independent inquiry will expose this scandal for what it is – a discriminatory and deliberately cruel policy promoted by a Government obsessed with deportation no matter the human cost. Their greatest mistake was believing that the public would stand for toxic policies which have destroyed lives and torn our communities apart. The hostile environment's days are numbered.”

* Read Home Office: A Dossier of Failure here

* Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants is an independent national charity which exists to campaign for justice in immigration, nationality and refugee law and policy.

* Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants https://www.jcwi.org.uk/

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