Don’t report illegal immigrants if they’re crime victims, police told
POLICE officers have been told not to take action against illegal immigrants if they are victims of crime.
Police chiefs believe fears of being identified as an illegal immigrant could deter victims from coming forward, and have issued guidance to officers discouraging them from automatically alerting the deportation authorities.
The guidance from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) came amid “heightened interest” following the Windrush scandal.
The advice also bans officers from checking the police national computer solely to see if a person has leave to remain in the UK.
It states that where a person reporting a crime is also identified as possibly being a person without leave to remain or to enter the UK, the “fundamental principle” must be to “first and foremost” treat them as a victim.
However, if, during the inquiry, it became apparent that the victim was illegally in Britain, officers could “at the appropriate juncture” alert immigration enforcement.
The policy has been drawn up after police faced criticism for sharing information about crime victims with immigration authorities.
In May, it emerged that more than half of forces referred victims and witnesses to the Home Office for immigration enforcement.
The paper said: “This issue is of heightened interest post-windrush, with police forces receiving FOI (Freedom of Information) inquiries regarding their information exchange with Immigration Enforcement which highlight the potentially inconsistent response.”
Shaun Sawyer, the chief constable of Devon and Cornwall and NPCC lead on immigration crime, said local forces were now bringing policies into line with the guidance: “When someone reports a crime, police will always, first and foremost, treat them as a victim.”