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22 Jan 2019

Each week sees more revelations about the extent of the Windrush scandal and government failures

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11 Dec 2018
As in so many other areas, the Windrush scandal throws up more evidence each week of how the Tories are incapable of governing.

To give one example, the recent National Audit Office’s (NAO) report on the Government’s handling of the Windrush situation is a damning illustration of a catalogue of Government failures. 

Specifically, the report makes it clear that Home Office processes led to wrongful detentions and deportations of members of the Windrush generation.

It also illustrated how the Home Office failed to heed warnings of unfair consequences for children of Commonwealth citizens, who were living and working here.

The NAO’s report came just days after it emerged dozens of people deported to Commonwealth countries have not been contacted by the Windrush taskforce in order to tell them of its existence.

Ministers admitted that "no specific attempt" had been made to approach 49 people who were held in detention centres and then deported to Ghana and Nigeria in 2017, before the Windrush scandal fully erupted.

It is possible some of these could have been wrongfully deported as part of the government’s “hostile environment” approach and this is yet another illustration of how reckless and incompetent the government’s immigration policy has been in recent years.

As Satbir Singh, the chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said, "If the Home Office has the capacity to deny somebody their rights, to separate them from their loved ones and remove them from the country, surely it has the capacity to find them, to apologise and to help them come home.”

There is an important wider point here. These cases illustrate clearly how the Windrush generation –and those affected by the scandal - includes many more than just those who came from the Caribbean.

The reality is that people from almost every Commonwealth country have been treated badly.

It is also quite unacceptable that the Home Office’s own practices continue to deepen the crisis. Ministers’ repeated assurances that they are on top of this scandal are clearly worthless.

Indeed, nearly every week a further revelation illustrates the government’s appalling treatment of the victims of the Windrush scandal, and how the Government has learned absolutely nothing from it.

These developments were only weeks after the Home Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed to the Home Affairs Select Committee on 12 November that eight more members of the Windrush generation who may have been wrongly deported have been found to have died, taking the total to at least 11.

He has also confirmed that officials had been unable to contact many of those thought to have been caught up in the Windrush scandal, meaning that the number who have died could turn out to be higher still.

Additionally, it was reported in November that the government’s tally of wrongful deportations and detentions is likely to rise from this figure of 164, as a number of affected people have been misclassified as a “criminal case type”. This meant they were excluded from this figure, which will now be revised.

The reason for this is that the government has conducted an official review of 11,800 cases of Caribbean born people who have been detained or removed since 2002 to assess how many might have been mistakenly targeted despite being here legally, and in August decided to exclude anyone with a criminal conviction. But now the Home Office has said its “criminal case type” category wrongly included people who had “committed only a minor offence/s or have been acquitted or not prosecuted.”

All these revelations came shortly after we found out that citizens from an astounding 64 countries have been referred to its Windrush taskforce.

Since September, 66 per cent of people granted indefinite leave to remain after being referred to the taskforce were from the Caribbean islands of Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Grenada, with 30 per cent from “other nationalities.”  These included people from European countries including France and Germany and Commonwealth countries such as Nigeria and Australia.

These latest developments – and indeed the piecemeal nature of updates we are getting – show that the government is still simply not taking the Windrush scandal and its aftermath seriously enough.

Furthermore, the reality is that we still do not know the true scale of the Windrush Generation scandal, including how many people were deported and imprisoned.

It’s clear that without a fundamental change of approach these injustices will continue, especially with ministers themselves often seeming not to know what’s going on.

The government need to finally take charge of this shambles, start treating all the Windrush generation fairly and legally, and end the hostile environment.

If not, this is yet another reason why they must step aside.

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