Britain’s outgoing Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration has taken a parting shot at the country’s immigration system, saying it suffers from poor management and lax record-keeping.
Although the UK’s border system has improved, bad decision-making is still holding it back, according to John Vine.
In an interview with the Independent, he said: “There needs to be an improvement in leadership and management skills, particularly in the middle tiers who are going to ensure that the standards imposed from the top are applied.”
“One of the things that really concerns me is that we keep coming across a lack of quality assurance. Standards have been requested but line managers don’t ensure case workers are working to that standard.”
Mr Vine said that he has also come into conflict with the Home Secretary after she took control of the publication of his reports into Britain’s immigration system, sometimes delaying them to lessen their impact.
One report on border controls at Calais had 15 passages redacted, while others have been delayed for months on end. Mr Vine insists, however that this has nothing to do with his departure, which comes earlier than expected.
Commenting on the Home Secretary control over the reports, Mr Vine was keen to mend bridges: “That’s a good thing in terms of ensuring that parliamentarians see what recommendations are being made. I had some reservations about that and I expressed them to her because I thought the system we had worked pretty well for five years. But that’s a matter for her.”
He also added that the British public find it “very difficult” to fully comprehend immigration as it often gets mixed up with other debates, including national security, employment and housing.
Indicating a degree of sympathy with immigrants, he said: “I meet a lot asylum-seekers and they always appear to me to be genuinely people who are fleeing persecution and deserve to be treated appropriately.”
He added: “I don’t think they have a cushy life. Very often they rely upon the support of friends and families. My job is ensure that the Home Office treats those applicants properly, fairly and in accordance with the law.
“Clearly there are people who are economic migrants and want a better life in the UK and may claim asylum as a way of achieving that. Again, those people deserve to be treated fairly and within the law. My job is to ensure that the Home Office does that and if they are refused asylum – again they are treated with respect.”