The UK Border Agency is struggling with an enormous backlog of 276,000 immigration cases, a new report by the Commons Home Affairs Committee has revealed.
The backlog is equivalent to the population of Newcastle, and includes 150,000 individuals in the migration refusal pool. The Committee said it was “totally unacceptable that there are so many outstanding cases that the Agency has yet to work through.”
It called on the Agency to act immediately to identify ways to locate these individuals and conclude these cases.
The Committee’s report shows that 3,900 foreign national prisoners are currently living in the community. It also shows that it took on average 74 days to remove a foreign national offender in 2011 after their sentence came to an end.
The Committee criticised the Agency for failing to work with NOMS to ensure deportation proceedings begin at the time of sentencing.
The MPs welcomed the Government's decision to provide clear guidance for cases dealt with under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and expects to see this drive up the proportion of foreign offenders that the Agency is able to deport.
The Committee also called on the Government to publish a list of countries which refuse to accept the return of their own criminals.
"This is the first time that the Committee has collated all the cases at the UK Border Agency that await resolution. This backlog is now equivalent to the entire population of Newcastle upon Tyne. It will take years to clear,” said Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Committee. “The Agency seems to have acquired its own Bermuda triangle. It’s easy to get in, but near impossible to keep track of anyone, let alone get them out.”
Mr. Vaz urged the UK Border Agency “to have the databases and processes in place to identify bogus migrants and remove them quickly. We feel that 100% of the visits made by the Agency should be unannounced in respect of bogus college.”
He also criticised bonuses given to the Agency’s senior officials. “The Committee reiterates its recommendations made last year that bonuses should not be paid to senior staff until this organisation carries out the intentions of Parliament. Those who have received bonuses since that time must return them," he said.