Back in January 2013, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, John Vine, decided to launch a series of “spot check” visits to assess how certain areas of the UK”s border and immigration functions have improved as compared to the last time they were inspected and how previous recommendations had been implemented.
Following this, in March this year, Theresa May announced that she considered the UKBA to be failing, and took the decision to abolish the agency and to bring the work back into the Home Office. The purpose being to improve efficiency and tackle the backlogs within the agency.
This month a report has been released following the first three spot check visits that took place at the Public Enquiry Office in Croydon, the Command and Control Centre in Manchester and the East Midlands Reporting Centre. Mr Vine reports that he is in fact happy with the improvements that have been made to these services. He states he is; “pleased to see evidence that the Home Office had acted upon….previous recommendations for these three business areas.”
Mr Vine found that the PEO in Croydon has made great improvements since his last inspection in 2012. PEOs deal with “same day” applications for visas and indefinite leave to remain. Mr Vine reported in 2010 that applicants were not getting a same day service (as promised on the website) but a 24 hour service, which often turned out to be a “next day” service. This year it was announced that 91.5% of applicants received a same day decision. The major reforms that are still needed include enhancing communication with customers as to what the PEO”s targets are, and enhancing the quality of information available on the website.
East Midlands Reporting Centre:
The East Midlands Reporting Centre is used by people who have an asylum claim pending or who have had a claim refused and who are required to report to a specified place in order to remain in contact with the Home Office. Mr Vine’s spot check found that since his recommendations in 2010, the Centre now has improved translation facilities, improved systems for registering complaints and has introduced a better system for assessing people’s eligibility for travel expenses.
The Command and Control Unit (CCU):
The Command and Control Unit was established in 2006 to serve as a link between the UK Border Agency and a number of other services, notably the police. In Mr Vine”s report in 2010, it was noted that the purpose of the CCU was unclear. He now reports, however, that the CCU is “much improved with a much clearer idea of its own purpose and goals,” although he also points out that there are still delays in the unit caused by a lack of telephony services that needs to be addressed.
The Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration has also launched a 2013 annual survey to gauge the views of stakeholders and members of the public on the work of the Inspectorate over the last year.
If you would like to take part, the survey is open until Friday 20th September and takes approximately 10 minutes to complete and asks for feedback on:
- Values and principles
- Inspection reports
- Inspection methodology
- Communication channels
- Engagement with stakeholders