Updated 1 May 2022: Guardian: Immigration officers placed in 25 local authorities by Home Office, FoI reveals

Embedded officials can pass the details of undocumented people to immigration enforcement

The Home Office has placed immigration officers in child social services and dozens of other local authority departments, in an arrangement that has raised concerns about the ability of the most vulnerable to seek support, the Guardian can reveal.

[…] Records released in response to FoI requests reveal that at the end of 2021, 12 local authorities plus HS2 and TfL still had immigration officers working within them on behalf of the Home Office, including five where officers had been placed specifically in children’s services.

The shadow minister for immigration, Stephen Kinnock, said: “Keeping children safe is an absolute priority and there should be no action that puts that at risk. The Home Office must explain what exactly these officers are doing and how they can guarantee that their work does not deny vulnerable children the support or protection they need.”

Mary Atkinson, campaigns officer at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: “It’s chilling to hear that government have been entrenching hostility into the services that families rely on for help and protection. Just like the hostile environment in healthcare, we know this practice spreads fear in our communities, and prevents people from seeking support.Advertisement

“It’s time government ended this dangerous and discriminatory approach – every resident should be able to put their trust in local councils at times of need.”

Colin Yeo, an immigration law barrister at Garden Court Chambers, said: “Councils are not legally obliged to collaborate with the immigration authorities in this way and it is disappointing to see them voluntarily creating a hostile environment for vulnerable migrants. Enforced removals and voluntary returns are very rare now so all this does is force people underground who need help and support to get on their feet.”

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