Home Office U-turns on Windrush inquiry recommendations

Suella Braverman drops three measures government was previously expected to implement
Suella Braverman

By Jim Dunton

27 Jan 2023

Home secretary Suella Braverman has said the government will not proceed with three recommendations from Wendy Williams’ lessons-learned review into the Windrush scandal that ministers previously pledged to implement.

Her announcement, made in the form of a written ministerial statement yesterday, prompted criticism from Williams and independent chief inspector of borders and immigration David Neal.

Former police watchdog Williams’s 2020 report said the Home Office had displayed “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness” on race throughout the scandal, which saw members of the Windrush generation denied access to public services, housing and jobs. Some were even wrongly deported despite having the right to live and work in the UK.

Williams made 30 recommendations and then-home secretary Priti Patel presided over an action plan to implement them.

In her statement yesterday, Braverman said the Home Office had made a “concerted effort” to right the wrongs suffered by those affected in the scandal, and that “sustained progress” was being made in delivering on Williams’ recommendations.

However she said  recommendations to run “reconciliation events” for victims, introduce a commissioner responsible for migrants, and review the role and remit of the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration would not be proceeded with.

“On reconciliation events specifically, on the balance of expert advice received on how to approach this incredibly sensitive subject, I am persuaded that there are more effective ways of engaging with those impacted,” she said.

The home secretary added that the Home Office had already established an independent examiner for complaints.

A table provided by the Home Office that accompanied Braverman’s statement described just eight of the recommendations Williams made three years ago as having been met.

Williams said she was disappointed with Braverman’s decision and viewed the creation of the migrants’ commissioner and ICIBI role-and-remit review as “crucial external security measures”.

“I believe they will raise the confidence of the Windrush community, but also help the department succeed as it works to protect the wider public, of whom the Windrush generation is such an important part,” she said.

Neal said scrapping the review of the ICIBI represented a missed opportunity to take stock of its independence and effectiveness.

“The ICIBI was established in 2009; its budget has been stagnant since then, and staffing levels have actually decreased, even as borders and immigration issues have grown in prominence and complexity,” he said.

“A role and remit review would have provided an opportunity to assess whether the level of resourcing provided to the inspectorate is appropriate.”

He added: “Unlike other inspectorates, the ICIBI does not have the power to publish its own reports. The Home Office is responsible for publishing ICIBI’s reports, and it regularly fails to meet its commitment to ensure that reports are published within eight weeks of submission.”

Neal said the review could have looked at the potential for increased powers in relation to report-publication.

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