The Home Office has admitted that some potential victims of the Windrush scandal were not identified because they were incorrectly labelled as criminals. The failure to include these people in the review of how many members of the Windrush generation were wrongly removed or detained, revealed after probing from Parliament’s human rights committee, means that there could be many more than the 164 so far identified.
The government’s response to the Windrush scandal has already seen thousands of people given fast-track immigration paperwork. All were entitled to live in the UK but were previously unable to prove it, meaning that they lost jobs, denied access to the NHS, put in immigration detention or removed from the UK. The Home Office has been investigating how many people are in these last two categories.
Sajid Javid told another parliamentary committee in August that officials had reviewed 11,800 cases where people from the Caribbean had been removed from the UK or held in detention centres over the years. Of those, 164 seemed to have been in the UK before 1 January 1973, meaning that they would have been here legally and should not have been targeted.
But the 11,800 “did not include cases defined in our systems as being a ‘criminal case type'”, Javid said at the time, “because as I have consistently expressed, I make a purposeful distinction between criminal and other cases. Work is ongoing to check that this is not too broad a category…”
Javid has now written to the Joint Committee on Human Rights conceding that it was too broad a category. Some people with a criminal marker on their file had not committed a crime at all:
Following work to review the population of previously excluded cases, we have identified that some individuals with a criminal case type marker may have committed only a minor offence/s or have been acquitted or not prosecuted.
The letter in full is below:
The committee’s chair, Harriet Harman, said that:
The Committee’s probing of this issue has revealed that Windrush people who’d been acquitted of criminal charges, or charged but never prosecuted, were nonetheless excluded from the Home Office review because they were subject to “criminal case markers”.
This is Home Office blundering in their attempt to sort out a Home Office blunder. The Home Office appear to be struggling to grasp even the fundamentals of tackling such a serious injustice.
It is unclear how many people have not been counted because officials incorrectly thought they were criminals, or how many of those will turn out to have been in the UK legally. Javid writes that “we will continue to exclude individuals who have been deported following a criminal conviction” and officials are now trying to work out how many more records need to be checked.