Immigrant Victims of Crime in UK Being Referred to Immigration Enforcement Officials

When asked about handing over the details of the victims, more than half, 27, of 45 police forces responded saying that they did.


Immigrant victims of crime are being handed to UK’s immigration enforcement authorities by the police in the United Kingdom for alleged immigration offences, according to the BBC.

Out of 45 police forces in the United Kingdom who were asked about handing over the details of the victims, more than half, 27, replied in the affirmative while responding to BBC’s freedom of information requests.

While three respondents said that they did not, the rest of them either did not respond or did not give clear answers or said that they lacked information. According to critics, it could deter immigrant victims from seeking help and coming forward, the Mirror reported. The police forces included Essex police and Greater Manchester police, among others.

“Victims of crime must be treated first and foremost as victims. When individuals are found to have no basis in the United Kingdom, we carefully consider the details of the case before taking an enforcement action,” a spokesperson from the Home Office was quoted as saying by the Metro.

Pragna Patel from campaigning group Southall Black Sisters pointed out that handing over crime victims for immigration enforcement is in contrast with the promise made by the UK government to provide protection to all women from violence. “Since 2014, we’ve seen a steady rise in cases where the police have arrested women or reported women to the Home Office as potential illegals rather than deal with their reports of violence and rape,” Patel said, according to the Metro.

The police are considering if further advice to the forces is needed, Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Lead for Immigration Crime, said. “The police priority is to protect victims and investigate crime, and we are extremely careful about doing anything to deter victims from reporting to us. Each case is considered very carefully but there will be instances where police need to exchange information with the Home Office,” Sawyer was quoted as saying by the Guardian.

Police officers have the ability to refer some victims of crime to immigration enforcement since they have the freedom to check the backgrounds of these people on the police national computer (PNC) — a computer system used extensively by law enforcement organizations across the United Kingdom, the Guardian reported.

The police forces generally use their discretion whether or not to make these background checks on both British as well as foreign nationals — who report crimes to them — as they don’t need their permission, the Guardian reported. The victims, however, are not aware that the police is checking their backgrounds.

“Police are bound by the Human Rights Act to investigate crimes effectively, regardless of who the victim is – but this gives officers a license to act on their prejudices with no guidance, oversight or accountability,” Martha Spurrier, the director of the civil liberties organization Liberty said, calling it in a new low, according to the Guardian.

Spurrier added that it will leave people afraid to report crime, “robbing them of protection under the law and creating impunity for criminals who target vulnerable people with unsettled immigration status. This is criminalizing victims and letting criminals off the hook.”

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