“You’re required to leave the UK”- TEXTS warning suspected illegal immigrants- More than 100 complain
The Home office in its fresh tactics to tackle illegal immigrants have sent text message to the suspected illegal immigrants saying that they had no right to stay in Britain. Almost 40,000 texts have been sent to people suspected of being in the country illegally.
However, more than 100 people who are legally living in the UK for ages have complained of receiving a message asking them to leave the country. It includes a civil rights campaigner who has been in Britain since 1966 and an immigration caseworker.
In the text campaign, the standard message from private contractor Capita states: ‘Message from the UK Border Agency: You are required to leave the UK as you no longer have the right to remain.’
They were first sent out last Christmas holidays and the company also uses phone, email or letter to warn people that UK Border Agency records suggest they need to leave the country.
Despite staunch oppositions from the Lib Dems, Home Office minister Mark Harper signalled that controversial vans telling people to ‘go home’ could be used. London Mayor Boris Johnson also backed the vans, claiming they could be useful in persuading people to leave Britain.
Earlier this year the Information Commissioner launched an investigation into the bizarre tactic, amid complaints that UKBA held inaccurate and outdated data, in breach of the Data Protection Act.
Now a government source has told the Independent that ‘mistakes have clearly been made’ ABOUT who has been targeted, triggering more than 100 complaints
One, Suresh Grover, is a civil rights campaigner and founded the anti-racism charity The Monitoring Group which has campaigned for justice for Stephen Lawrence and Victoria Climbie.
He told the newspaper: ‘I was absolutely shocked and quite horrified to receive the text. I thought it wasn’t meant for me.
‘I came here with my parents in 1966, I was born in East Africa and have always had a British passport.’
Mr Grover said he realised he wasn’t alone when talking to his acquaintance Bobby Chan, who had received the same message. Mr Chan is accredited immigration adviser at a central London law centre who has given evidence as an expert witness to the Home Affairs select committee.
Yet he received a text stating “Message from the UK Border Agency. You are required to leave the UK as you no longer have right to remain.”
So far the Home Office has received 103 complaints and Capita have received 95 complaints. Mr Grover and Mr Chan believe the number to be far higher.
Social policy publication Discover Magazine reported on the case of a Croatian man who left two weeks after UKBA told him he no longer had leave to remain.
“Where it is identified that Capita have contacted an individual in error, Capita and Home Office records are immediately updated and contact is ceased. Furthermore, if an error has been made at the triage stage of handling the case, this is fed back, any learning incorporated into training and where, applicable processes, are amended.
“There have also been a very small number of instances where the contact details on record of an individual actually relate to a different person and this has only transpired during the contact process e.g. where a mobile phone number has changed hands. In these circumstances it is the responsibility of the individual to inform the Home Office of their new contact details. This is stated on Home Office application forms.”
A revised statement given today read: “In order to assist the Home Office, we were asked to check two mobile phone numbers. We established that neither number received text messages or phone calls from Capita.
“The number of complaints received to-date about erroneous contact has been negligible. We do, of course, investigate all complaints thoroughly.”
– Sharanya Bharathwaj