The Home Office has announced that Shona Dunn, currently the director general of the Economic and Domestic Secretariat at the Cabinet Office, will take up the role of its second permanent secretary after the summer.
She succeeds Patsy Wilkinson, who left the department in June for what the Home Office described as a “national security role outside the department”.
Dunn will help Home Office leaders deliver “the culture change that they want to see”, according to civil service head Sir Jeremy Heywood. Her appointment follows furore over the Windrush scandal and fierce criticism of the department’s attitudes to immigration.
It was announced that Wilkinson was to leave the department alongside director general of immigration enforcement Hugh Ind, following a row over Home Office deportation targets that led to then home secretary Amber Rudd’s resignation – though the department said the moves were not related to the incident.
Wilkinson’s portfolio in the department covered immigration and free movement policy, and oversight of the borders, immigration and citizenship system.
Dunn joined the civil service in 1995 and held a range of policy roles in housing, land use, planning and regeneration at the Department of the Environment. She has also worked in the Department for Education, covering educational standards, and the Department for Communities and Local Government, as director of planning and director of fire and resilience.
Her appointment, which was signed off by prime minister Theresa May, follows an external recruitment campaign.
The cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood said he was delighted Dunn had secured this promotion.
He added: “As head of the Cabinet Office’s Economic and Domestic Secretariat she has provided outstanding support to me and the Cabinet and given her record of achievement in a number of different departments she will add real value in the Home Office, helping the new home secretary and Philip Rutnam to deliver the culture change that they want to see.”
Home Office permanent secretary, Sir Philip Rutnam, said: “I am delighted to announce the appointment of Shona Dunn as the new second permanent secretary for the Home Office.
“This is a pivotal role in the leadership of the Home Office, supporting ministerial priorities and helping to deliver outstanding policy advice and operational efficiency on behalf of the government. I look forward to working with her as she starts to deliver this important remit.”
Dunn said of her appointment: “It’s a real privilege to have been asked to take on this role and I am delighted to be joining the Home Office at such an important time.
“I very much look forward to meeting all those who work in our borders, immigration and citizenship system, and to working with them, the wider Home Office and all of our partner organisations, to deliver on some of this government’s top priorities.”