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MPs slam failing Border Agency

By Vivienne Russell | 11 April 2012

The UK Border Agency is unable to fulfil its functions and is undermining the reputation of the UK government, MPs have warned.

In its third report on the troubled agency, the Home Affairs select committee found it had failed to: deport more than 600 foreign national prisoners released between 1999 and 2006 and still in the country; clear the backlog of 17,000 outstanding asylum cases; and deal with the ‘controlled archive’ of 119,000 lost applicants, people who had applied for immigration or asylum and since disappeared.

Committee chair Keith Vaz said the reputations of both the Home Office and the government more widely were being tarnished by the ‘inability of the UK Border Agency to fulfil its basic functions’.

He said: ‘The foreign national prisoner issue and the asylum backlog were scandals which first broke in 2006, six years ago. UKBA appears unable to focus on its key task of tracking and removing illegal immigrants, overstayers and bogus students from the country.

‘The so-called “controlled archive”, the dumping ground for cases where UKBA has lost track of the applicant, will take a further four years to clear at the current rate of resolution. This is unacceptable.’

The committee made a series of recommendations aimed at improving the work of UKBA. These included: routinely establishing the identities of foreign national prisoners and ensuring they have the necessary travel documentation as soon as they are sentenced; ensuring fewer cases are lost at appeal; and ensuring all inspections of so-called ‘bogus colleges’ are unannounced.

Immigration minister Damian Green said: ‘At the same time as clearing up the mistakes of the past, we are taking the action necessary to ensure the same errors will not be allowed to happen in the future.

‘We are starting the deportation process earlier and removing foreign criminals more quickly than ever. We are now making better asylum decisions, ensuring cases are properly tracked, improving intelligence and speeding up removals.’ 

In February, it was announced that UKBA was to be split in two after an inquiry revealed that border checks had been regularly suspended.

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