Home Affairs Committee criticises UKBA’s ‘bunker mentality’ and calls for more accurate information

The Home Office must ensure that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) ditches its “bunker mentality” and starts to provide consistently accurate statistics to Parliament, the Commons Home Affairs Committee said in a report yesterday.

By Civil Service World

12 Apr 2012

The report complained that information provided by the agency is “inconsistent” and that it must “rid itself of its bunker mentality and focus on ensuring that Parliament and the public understands its work. Confusion over figures only risks suspicion that the agency is attempting to mislead Parliament and the public over its performance and effectiveness.”

The committee was unhappy with the statistics it was given on UKBA’s asylum backlog, and also on the number of people who’ve entered the UK without passport checks.

It called on the Home Office permanent secretary to take responsibility for the agency’s statistics, and to “clean up and clarify all the figures” given to the committee. “It is difficult to see how senior management and ministers can be confident they know what is going on if the agency cannot be precise in the information it provides to this committee,” it said.

However, the committee praised UKBA’s new chief executive, Rob Whiteman, for spending one day every fortnight visiting frontline staff and customers.

It also welcomed his decision to work regularly in regional offices in Sheffield, Manchester and Croydon, rather than solely working from the Home Office’s headquarters in central London.

Committee chair Keith Vaz said: “The reputation of the Home Office, and by extension, the UK government, is being tarnished by the inability of the UK Border Agency to fulfil its basic functions.”

Immigration minister Damian Green responded: “‘This government has chosen to publish more information than ever before, information which members of the public and Parliament can use to analyse our performance and hold us to account.’

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