Capita wrongly telling people to leave the UK

January 4, 2013 — News

Written by Frances Webber

Outsourcing of enforcement role causes confusion and distress as many are wrongly targeted.

In the second and third weeks of December 2012, as businesses wound down for Christmas and MPs went home, thousands of migrants, including students, workers and investors, received text messages or emails telling them they had no lawful leave to be in the country and should make arrangements to leave immediately ‘and provide proof that you have done so’. The texts and emails, headed ‘Message from the UK Border Agency’, were signed ‘Capita Business Services’. Some people were also contacted by phone, in some cases several times. Where solicitors were on record as acting for individuals, they were bypassed. In a number of cases the information Capita based their messages on was out of date or plain wrong; many recipients had valid leave to be in the country, while many others were awaiting a response from UK Border Agency (UKBA) to an application to stay or an MP’s representations. Some recipients thought the messages were spam or a sick joke; others were terrified.[1]

The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA) complained to the UKBA before the Christmas break that the messages were highly unprofessional as well as distressing and often inaccurate, and in some cases breached data protection requirements. But at the beginning of January many more migrants reported receiving similar messages.

Capita won a contract with UKBA in September 2012 to find and remove up to 174,000 migrants illegally in the UK, after the independent inspector of UKBA, John Vine, found an apparent backlog of around 150,000 people who had overstayed visas but not been removed (dubbed the ‘migration refusal pool’).[2]  The backlog includes thousands of refused asylum seekers who cannot return to their countries because of war, natural disaster or other strong reasons, as well as many more who seek to remain on compassionate or family grounds.

The contract is worth up to £40 million over four years, with payment based on results (the numbers who leave after being contacted). But as Vine, the Home Affairs Committee and immigration lawyers are aware, UKBA record-keeping is notoriously inaccurate, and when the contract was announced, migrant and advisory organisations warned of the danger that people with the right to remain, or with outstanding applications to stay, would be forced or intimidated into leaving the country by a ‘bounty hunting’ approach.[3] Their concerns have been borne out, as accuracy, legality and the impact on vulnerable people of peremptory demands to leave appear to have been subordinated to the profit motive.

[1] Information provided by ILPA. [2]Capita gets contract to find 174,000 illegal immigrants’, BBC News, 18 September 2012. [3] See ASIRT, ‘Outsourcing removals and payment by results: a 21st century bounty hunt’, 18 September 2012.

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

Comments

September 24, 2013
Jackie Fearnley:

A friend of mine was called at ten last night by someone who said they were from UKBA, saying he must go to the police station within twenty minutes after packing two bags, because he was going to be sent back to his country that night. He asked if he could ring his solicitor but they said if he did that they would block his phone. He told the man he was in the middle of his asylum case with a Judicial Review coming up but they said none of that was relevant and that he had to leave the country and that if he didn’t go now, they would come to arrest him….. I have a horrible feeling that this has the hallmarks of the new system for outsourcing deportations. If it is someone’s idea of a joke on the other hand, it is revealing that it feels all too real. To do this to someone who has already suffered brutal treatment at the hands of the police in his own country is cruel beyond words.

February 12, 2014
harshadbhai chimanbhai patel:

i m also misguided by capita business services, they send me aletter with with statement of intention to depart on 23jan 2014 ireceived the post on 29jan2014 and booked ny ticet for india for 18 feb 14 and return the form with copy of ticketon nextday with 1st class recordrd delivery by royal mail sevice,now they hesitating to returned me on same day. when i contact home office at lunar house they said it is not posiible to send you return on 18 th feb14,. now i am in trouble and can’t cancelled ny ticet be cause i have no more money to buy a new ticket earlier i bought my ticket with someone’s help .if they not sending me intime i am going to kill myself by jumped down on rail/road track this is the final way to leave uk for me.

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