Im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers win choco­lates for most ar­rests, union says

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Ra­jeev Syal

Im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers are be­ing en­cour­aged to com­pete to ar­rest the high­est num­ber of sus­pected il­le­gal mi­grants and can be re­warded with cake or choco­lates, a trade union said.

Man­agers put the names and oc­ca­sion­ally the pho­to­graphs of the most suc­cess­ful of­fi­cers on the wall of their of­fices, ac­cord­ing to the PCS union.

Mark Ser­wotka, the gen­eral sec­re­tary of the union, which rep­re­sents many of the of­fi­cers, is de­mand­ing the Home Office cur­tails the prac­tice in the wake of the Win­drush scan­dal. He said the schemes could be seen as ev­i­dence staff were still un­der pres­sure from the Home Office to ap­pre­hend sus­pects in sig­nif­i­cant num­bers.

The govern­ment aban­doned im­mi­gra­tion re­moval tar­gets seven weeks ago after the Guardian un­cov­ered the Win­drush scan­dal. Cam­paign­ers said the tar­gets en­cour­aged staff to pur­sue peo­ple seen as “low-hang­ing fruit”.

After the res­ig­na­tion of Am­ber Rudd as home sec­re­tary, her suc­ces­sor, Sa­jid Javid, claimed he had re­jected Theresa May’s “hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment” pol­icy and said he would pur­sue a “fairer, more com­pas­sion­ate sys­tem”.

Ser­wotka said: “Our mem­bers have been clear that they have been put un­der pres­sure to im­ple­ment what have been racist poli­cies for too long.

“We know that man­agers have pre­sented cakes and choco­lates to of­fi­cers who de­tained the high­est num­ber of peo­ple – a way of try­ing to in­cen­tivise staff – but it is grotesque. We de­mand that the Home Office stops this prac­tice.”

A Home Office spokesper­son said the de­part­ment did not recog­nise the claims of in­ter­nal com­pe­ti­tion. “We do not in­tend to set tar­gets for en­forced re­movals or ar­rests, and there are no tar­gets in the cur­rent year,” he said.

“Im­mi­gra­tion En­force­ment is an op­er­a­tional direc­torate re­spon­si­ble for en­forc­ing im­mi­gra­tion law. The con­duct of the of­fi­cers is of the ut­most im­por­tance, and we are clear that they must act law­fully, pro­fes­sion­ally and treat peo­ple with dig­nity.”

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