Home Office has no idea how many illegal immigrants are in Britain, damning new report reveals
- An NAO report said we do not know how many illegal immigrants are in the UK
- It revealed illegal immigrants who evade detection for two years are disregarded
- This is despite the £392million annual budget set for Immigration Enforcement
The spending watchdog concluded that the £392million annual budget for Immigration Enforcement, one of the divisions run by Home Secretary Priti Patel (pictured), was not good value
The Home Office does not know how many illegal immigrants are in Britain, a damning official report reveals today.
The National Audit Office (NAO) also disclosed that illegal immigrants who evade detection for two years are disregarded.
The spending watchdog concluded that the £392million annual budget for Immigration Enforcement, one of the divisions run by Home Secretary Priti Patel, was not good value.
It called for officials to produce a proper estimate of how many people are living in the UK illegally.
The last government figure – 430,000 – is 15 years old and some unofficial research puts the latest total at 1.2million.
The NAO also found that thousands of tip-offs about suspected immigration offenders were never investigated and fewer were being removed – 12,000 in the first 11 months of last year compared with 28,000 in 2015.
A Dungeness lifeboat is pictured on April 25 after picking up an inflatable dinghy which is thought to have been used to carry migrants across the English Channel
It said enforcement teams were carrying out fewer raids and visits and were relying on faulty or outdated information.
Gareth Davies, head of the NAO, said: ‘While the Home Office has introduced significant changes to its enforcement activity, it cannot demonstrate that overall performance is improving.
‘The Department needs a better understanding of the impact of its immigration enforcement activity on its overarching vision to reduce the size of the illegal population and the harm it causes.’
The report said: ‘Although there would be significant uncertainty around any estimate it (the department) developed, such an estimate could help the department to demonstrate that its activities are effective in deterring attempts to enter or remain in the UK illegally.’
Meg Hillier, head of Parliament’s financial watchdog, said it appeared the Home Office had ‘no idea’ how many people are in the UK illegally ‘and doesn’t seem interested in finding out’.
Ms Hillier added: ‘The Home Office has no idea how many people are in the country illegally and doesn’t seem interested in finding out.
‘It can’t demonstrate that its actions to control illegal immigration are working as intended, and doesn’t understand how different aspects of its work fit together.’