Monday, May 01, 2006

The Great Foreign Criminals Fiasco, Continued: Striking One For the Blogosphere

It should have come as no surprise that Labour’s deportation policy has been motivated by the desire to avoid claims for asylum rather than the efficient administration of justice and the expulsion of foreign criminals.

Evidence to support this conclusion has been in the public domain for nearly five months.

On December 6 2005, I posted an entry on ‘The G-Gnome Rides Out’, entitled, ‘Who Is Dave Roberts?’. It started,

“I pay your wages. Do as you are told".
Those are the reported words of one 'Dave Roberts', whom the British taxpayer apparently, and it would seem foolishly, pays to lead the Enforcement and Removal Section of its Immigration Service.
They appeared in yesterday's 'Daily Mail' (not online) as part of a front-page report entitled 'Secret Amnesty on Immigration'. Apparently immigration officers have been ordered to implement a 'catch and release' policy for all illegals they detain on the basis that the number of asylum-seekers waiting to be reported has created something of an administrative hump.

According to the 'Mail', the policy originated in an e-mail from an individual named 'Yvonne Evans',described as a 'senior Immigration Service official based in London'. The Mail reports that,

"The November 10 memo told staff:

'We are still exceeding our allocation of ring-fenced beds and this is likely to mean the lack of detention pace for FAS (failed asylum-seekers).

As a short-term solution I suggested to the TCG (Tactical Co-ordination Group) yesterday that for the rest of the month we should not detain any more non-FAS.

This was agreed and received the support of Jackie Lutchford (Mail note: her boss, deputy director of the Immigration Service in London). We will review this decision at the next TCG. '
It was at a meeting of 'up to' 150 immigration officers and cops last week that Roberts made his comments.

Somebody might like to advise 'Dave', that he does not 'pay the wages' - I do, just as I pay his. That particular comment has been made to me before. The sort of person who makes it is a bully by temperament, and it usually comes out when they're cornered like a rat."

In the wake of the conviction of Mary Ann Leneghan’s killers, on April 3 2006 the Daily Telegraph reported that in relation to Operation Falcon, an exercise by Thames Valley Police to curb foreigner-perpetrated crime in Reading:

“Attempts by the police to rid the streets of violent criminals who control the drug trade and prostitution are constantly frustrated because the Government has focused its performance targets on removing failed asylum seekers, who are often simply economic migrants.”

It also quoted a Thames Valley officer as saying,

We try to crack down but get no support from the immigration service." He claimed that immigration staff routinely failed to attend police stations when his officers arrested suspected illegal immigrants and failed to track those who were meant to be deported, leaving them free to continue with their criminal activities.”

The ‘Focus’ section of yesterday’s ‘Sunday Times’ was an analysis of the background to The Great Foreign Criminals Fiasco, and was entitled ‘Going Down’.

It is a sorry litany of how, in the highest circles, the ideology of political correctness allied to political expediency has replaced commitment to the rule of law. It records that,

“The government’s lack of grip or urgency was revealed in September 2005 by Paul Goggins, a Home Office minister. Asked about foreign prisoners and deportation, he told the Commons: “Information on the number of persons held in prison who are subject to deportation orders is not . . . available except by examination of individual case files, at disproportionate cost.”

If Goggins and his officials had bothered to look, they would have discovered that scores of foreign criminals were being released each month without any attempt to deport them.

Was it incompetence or a quietly deliberate policy? According to a senior Whitehall insider, Home Office ministers were far from keen to issue deportation orders on foreign criminals, fearing they would promptly claim asylum and bring down the wrath of the prime minister.

Blair had committed the government to halving the number of asylum claims, which were running at 90,000 a year. The Home Office was so desperate to reach this target that it bypassed proper checks in an effort to clear a backlog of ordinary asylum claims.”

So the fiasco came about in part because of the failure of asylum policy, and the political necessity of fixing it.

Clearly the need to fix it was directed from the highest level – but what input did the highest level have on determining which groups might or might not be at higher risk of claiming asylum?

This is a matter on which Blair must come clean. The consequences of his failure to do so would go beyond a mere leadership challenge; instead, they might threaten the very future of his government, rendering him liable to pay the ultimate political penalty for his policy even if he really was ignorant of its consequences.

Going Down’ continued,

“While the convicts were happily vanishing, senior managers from the IND were indulging in an exercise worthy of David Brent, deluded manager of The Office. More than 20 attended a “visioning workshop” organised by RSM Robson Rhodes, the management consultants.

They were told to use “images, words and models” to make flip-chart presentations about how to improve the IND. Some drew smiley faces, one a big umbrella. Another drew a picture of some lips and a hand with the caption “Saying what we’ll do; doing what we say”. If only. Dave Roberts, a senior IND official, wrote the slogan “Migration is good for Britain”.

Roberts, who is known as the “eternal flame” apparently because he never goes out, is head of the IND’s removals directorate. His task is to deport people, not let them in.”

So David Roberts, a civil servant who is neither unimportant nor overly important, is reported to have bullied underlings while also expressing an ideological opinion that might directly conflict with the task with which he has been charged and for which he presumably volunteered.

It is no longer in the national interest that he remain in his post. He should be fired.

And fired along with him should be the Home Affairs Editors of The Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and the BBC, none of whose online archives contain any prior reference to this ‘Dave Roberts’, nor to that ‘Yvonne Evans’, nor to any ‘Jackie Lutchford’, nor to any e-mail from the Immigration & Nationality Directorate dated November 10 2005.

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