Thousands of illegal immigrants are escaping deportation as police fear being accused of racism if they question a suspect’s nationality, according to a Home Office report.

Failure to carry out the proper checks on migrants while they are in police custody is leading to huge amounts remaining in the country rather than being deported. Police fear asking questions about their nationality because they will be hung out to dry by politically correct regulations.

The Home Office report recommends that more checks on suspects while in custody and a closer relationship with the UK Border Agency is needed to identify illegal immigrants. A pilot study found that when enhanced checks were applied, more than three times as illegal immigrants were found. The 14 custody suites in England and Wales showed that the number of those identified rose from 73 to 250 during the three-month trial.

In one city, 20 suspected illegal immigrants were found during the first month, but only six were deported due to a lack of detention space. The rest were all given temporary release with conditions.

The Determining Identity and Nationality in Local Policing report also revealed that 435 foreign nationals were arrested in the same area and period – accounting for 25 per cent of all arrests. ‘The research demonstrated that more rigorous practices in custody suites could increase the number of foreign nationals and illegal migrants who are identified as being involved in criminal activity,” its authors said.

‘In some sites there was a marked reluctance to challenge arrestees who claimed to be British, even though officers suspected that the claims might be false. ‘This reluctance was commonly ascribed to the fear that any such challenge could result in an accusation of racism.’

The report also found that police officers were generally uncomfortable with detaining illegal migrants who had not been charged with a criminal offence and, in half of the 14 sites studied, ‘custody suite leads perceived illegal migrants as being a drain on custody suite time and resources’.

‘The use of police custody suites to detain arrestees because of their immigration status was a significant source of tension between the police and the immigration service in nearly every site visited,’ the report added.

Just under one in five of all suspected illegal migrants arrested were questioned over serious offences, compared with just over one in ten of UK citizens arrested, the report found.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘This research is more than three years old, and we are committed to improving the way the police and UK Border Agency work together. ‘We have already started making improvements with better information sharing, joint Local Immigration Crime Teams, and the introduction of a 24-hour phone service allowing police officers to check an offenders’ nationality with the UK Border Agency.

‘The new Government has recognised that much more still needs to be done – that is why we are currently undergoing a summer of activity to crackdown on foreign lawbreakers, and why we are committed to speeding up the removals of those with no right to be in the UK.’

SOURCE

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