At multiple points in development of this ‘need to know, what can actually happen accessing UK immigration services under the ‘Hostile Environment regime’’ information resource website, the topic of who are the Hostile Environment strategic leads to frontline deliverers, has emerged again and again. This question has been dealt with in the different contexts – at least in terms of how they act/function in their UK taxpayer funded positions – of their conduct/work activities, across the different sections of the website.
There are two sections to this page (those for UK immigration agencies/entities [Part 1], and those for the closely interconnected ‘Immigration Tribunal’ [Part 2]).
Part 1: UK immigration agencies/entities Hostile Environment enabling/supporting employees:
There are multiple agencies/entities that employ personnel to implement at frontline level, the Hostile environment. Out of these there are primary level organisations/agencies such as the UKVI and IE in its different forms, and UK Border Force. At important secondary (relevant UK police constabularies personnel working with IE, relevant sections of HMRC) to tertiary (local authorities, etc.)
In this page we mainly concentrate on the primary level Hostile Environment enforcing personnel responses to being paid to enforce the Hostile Environment. This response has essentially only three different forms, which are:
- Take the pay, and get the work done, albeit often with a heavy heart/troubled conscience
- Quit – including becoming ‘whistle-blowers’ on the abuses of process and powers witnessed
- Actively support the Hostile Environment & its Whitehall directors/leads particular agendas
Doubtless unrecorded by their employers in any formal structured ways, both the secondary and tertiary level Hostile Environment enforcement supporters, occasionally have those whose self-respect and humane instincts cause them to resign or ask for transfer to other sections of their organisations, that have no direct connection with Hostile Environment enforcement.
‘A’ is the response and coping strategy of the vast majority of non-Immigration Tribunal, Hostile Environment operational level implementers
‘B’ numerically speaking, the smallest number of Hostile Environment operational level implementers are the ‘Whistle-blowers’ – these are individuals who remember UK immigration services before the onset of the Hostile Environment and the professional and humane standards that from that time except at a superficial public policy statements level, were abandoned. Whistle-blowers related news links are provided below
‘C’ second smallest in number, these are the UK immigration employees in the UKVI and direct related UK immigration services, that have it appears uncritically accepted the new Hostile Environment age UK immigration services regime. Essentially the ‘C’ group refers to the ‘ISU’ whose details are provided below
‘B’ – Whistle-blowers related news links:
Small in number, those who leave the UK immigration Hostile Environment implementing agencies due to considerations of personal integrity, humanity, and an intolerance of institutional, purposed abuses of process and powers, ‘whistleblowers’ provide invaluable insights ‘from the inside’ of working in & for the Hostile Environment at operational level (The ‘ISU’ referred to below are their diametric opposite). They in particular reveal the actual strategy and operational level Hostile Environment detailed level implementation tactics, showing that quality assurance public policy statements on the .gov.uk website and elsewhere, including in immigration services application documents, and statements by government ministers (doubtless guided/directed by their Permanent Secretaries and guides, in Whitehall) to be disingenuous in the extreme.
‘C’ — The ISU:
The ISU is a key Hostile Environment enabling (through its members) entity (‘independent’ Trade Union). If you view their ‘Who are the ISU’ webpage (some screen captures provided below) — https://www.theisu.co.uk/who-are-the-isu/ — you will find an identical mirror of the generic ‘a Home Official provided the following [no name, photo or position within the UK immigration section] statement’ phenomenon.
It is completely understandable that those (salaries, substantial, paid for by the British taxpayer including British Citizens by birth or naturalisation, victims of the Hostile Environment) making official statements in response to revealed human rights and needlessly caused deaths and extreme mental health distressed caused by those implementing the Hostile Environment should wish to hide their actual names.
Whilst those in the upper echelons of Whitehall who direct them to make such frankly offensive statements (due to their disingenuous nature: statements and operational level very different realities) clearly are aware of the importance of Not disclosing those, the ‘unnamed and unnameable’ positions in the UK immigration system – this would pierce the carefully created shrouds on non-transparency that are a core dynamic of the Hostile Environment.
So lets have a look at the ISU human face(s) example screen captures below:
It is completely understandable that pictures may not be attractive to display for safety reasons, given the nature of most aspects of the work the ISU ‘Company Union’ involves its members in.
Note on quality of hostile environment implementers work:
Whistle-blowers and multiple other sources of reliable/trustworthy knowledge of the actual quality of hostile environment implementers work indicate trends of the Home Office not providing sufficient, quality training to many of those brought in to the UKVI in particular as caseworkers and ECOs/ECAs and other ranks. There is no effective independent auditing of recruitment and training, and whistle-blowers have revealed that workers are incentivised to refuse applications, rather than consider them on a professional & objective basis, and those with insufficient relevant skills and experience are readily accepted for employment. They are given significantly more time to refuse an application than to accept one, with the inevitable results and terrible inhumane costs they inflict on genuine applicants they refuse on obscure ‘the Rules’ based grounds, and through routinely ignoring key details and evidence.
These realities of poor quality work contrast strongly with assertions of professionalism and fairness on the .gov.uk website and elsewhere, including from government ministers:
Note: the minister chose to leave the assertions unaddressed!
Well, as the whistle-blowers have revealed time and again, as to the victims of the Hostile Environment testify, the above was disingenuous in the extreme given the facts, and almost certainly written by a Home Office civil servant for minister sign off. The minister in question, was an immigration minister under the former Home Secretary & PM, who is no longer in post.
Concerning the last sentence of the minister letter excerpt – ‘ … Caseworkers are given 555 minutes to refuse an asylum application but just 222 minutes to grant one…’ see https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/apr/28/home-office-chaos-and-incompetence-leads-to-unlawful-detentions-claim-whistleblowers .
Part 2: HMCTS Immigration Tribunal Hostile Environment enabling/supporting employees:
The Tribunal is particularly important as it constitutes the de-facto ‘heart’ of Hostile Environment at implementation level: without the Tribunal role no crucial ‘green light’ could exist on deportations of genuine applicants, asylum seekers and refugees, and the pitiless suffering inflicted on the Hostile Environment targets (Windrush, LGBT, etc.) through its human rights abuses.
Whilst there are many in public services (the police particularly, but HMRC and others too), who, as part of their salaried/remunerated work involves Hostile Environment implementation activity (a loss of time and taxpayers money, as these individuals conventional functions are curtailed), there are only two groups of those who are exclusively paid to de-facto deliver the ‘Hostile Environment.’ The first of these are those running and employed by the UKVI and IE, and the other, the leads, judges and admin support staff of HMCTS Immigration Tribunal.
In regard to the Tribunal, there is no equivalent of the ‘ISU’ nor a sub-group of whistle-blowers, however, so the ‘A, B, C’ divisions described above don’t apply; this is mainly due to the protocols particular to those in the legal profession.
However, the reaction to being paid to involve in de-facto directly implement the Hostile Environment against genuine visa, LTR and asylum applicants has taken other form in the Tribunal. The legal profession in the UK as in countries across the world, has always attracted those who seek to deploy their skills in regard to often closely argued tackling of a case, and those that also enter and excel in the profession for ethical – ensuring justice is delivered for victims of crime, bullying, human rights abuse.
It appears from ‘those leaving the Tribunal’ data that the Hostile Environment has caused and continues a major haemorrhage of those who were Immigration Tribunal judges.
This phenomenon is due to, doubtless the all too close relationship with the Home Office’ UKVI, but most of all taking a fee or salary for taking up this type of work, quickly becomes for judges who have become ethically tired of in working in an environment were clearly the traditional legal values of fairness and justice aren’t are more than compromised.
Consequently the number of judges ready and willing to work in the Tribunal, in the age of the Hostile Environment, has been seriously squeezed, leaving the Tribunal itself ‘a hostile environment for judges who still adhere to the traditional legal values of fairness and justice’ – exactly the outcome that was doubtless sought at Whitehall (Home Office & its immigration related agencies, and Ministry of Justice upper echelon level, when the Hostile Environment was originally planned and implemented, from Whitehall).
To conclude, in fact the number of judges ‘voting with their feet’ and leaving the Tribunal is very substantial, and a testimony to the professionalism and ethical integrity of those who have found that pay isn’t enough to retain them in working in such a, as is well-known, injustice enforcing environment.
Some useful links:
Interactions and Identities in UK Asylum Appeals: Lawyers and Law in a Quasi-Legal Setting
Senior judge calls UK immigration rules ‘a disgrace’
‘When refugees and other migrants reach UK shores their struggle isn’t over, they encounter a ‘hostile environment’ that seeks to penalise and alienate them …’
UK IMMIGRATION REPORTED BY 87 MPs TO THE EHRC FOR BREACHING UK EQUALITIES LAWS: …. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-48107957
- Decisions on whether an applicant can stay in the UK, supposed to take six months, frequently take two years. During this time, applicants are in limbo, unable to work or rent property.
- People who have sought asylum are frequently unlawfully detained for up to six weeks in immigration removal centres.
- Personal performance targets indirectly encourage employees to reject applications without fully examining whether people have the right to remain in the UK.
- People with a strong case to remain in the UK are deported because of poor decisions made by insufficiently trained staff.
- Flights for deportations are frequently cancelled when asylum seekers protest on board and pilots refuse to fly.
“One of the main reasons the planned deportations don’t go ahead is because a poorly trained, overworked caseworker has gambled that an applicant with a history of kicking off on planes, won’t do it again, so doesn’t give them an escort,” a source claimed. “But then they do kick off and the deportation has to be abandoned.”
Use of escorts is erratic, the whistleblowers said.
The sources also criticise personal performance targets given to the asylum team. These targets are so stringent, they believe, that employees feel indirectly incentivised to reject asylum applications.
Caseworkers are given 555 minutes to refuse an asylum application but just 222 minutes to grant one.
“Their justification is that a refusal takes longer to write but the reality is that a grant takes just as much time and effort,” argued one source.
“In one recent case, there were gaps and inconsistencies in an application and it would have been very easy to refuse it. The harder part is to dig around online and properly research why those inconsistencies are there. But that effort would eat into my stats and I would then get a black mark against my performance.”