A new report from Corporate Watch reveals how immigration enforcement works in the UK. The report draws on leaked Home Office intelligence documents from 2014’s “Operation Centurion”, analysed for the first time, alongside other public and confidential sources.
The report is detailed as follows:
Snitches, stings, and leaks: how “Immigration Enforcement” works
a report by Corporate Watch
In July 2016 restaurant chain Byron Hamburgers caused an outcry after setting up a “sting operation” with Home Office Immigration Enforcement to arrest its own workers. But, as this report shows, this was no one-off. Such operations are part of standard practice in the Home Office’s campaign of around 6,000 workplace raids a year, which is routinely based on “low grade” public informing, employers reporting on workers, and Immigration Officers acting without legal warrants.
This report draws on leaked Home Office intelligence documents from 2014’s “Operation Centurion”, analysed here for the first time, alongside other public and confidential sources. Key points include:
- The bulk of initial intelligence comes from around 50,000 “allegations” per year from “members of the public”. Most tip-offs that actually lead to raids are classed as low grade “uncorroborated” information from “untested sources”.
- 12 times more men than women are arrested in workplace raids; people from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India make up 75% of those arrested. Restaurants and takeaways are the main types of businesses hit.
- Immigration Officers seek to follow up tip-offs by contacting employers and asking them to collaborate ahead of raids. This collaboration may include: handing over staff lists; handing over personal details including home addresses, which are then raided; helping arrange “arrests by appointment”, as in Byron’s case and also mentioned in the leaked “Operation Centurion” files.
- Besides Byron, high profile cases of employer-supported raids have included cleaning contractors Amey and ISS (working for SOAS university), and food delivery service Deliveroo in June 2016. In these three cases, raids occurred while companies were involved in disputes with workers and unions.
- In general, employers are not legally obliged to co-operate in these ways: they can give or withhold “consent”. However, in practice, businesses complain that Immigration Officers often do not give the impression that co-operation is voluntary.
- The main pressure for co-operation is not legal but financial. Businesses are liable for a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker found – although only if it was “readily apparent” that workers had no “right to work”, e.g., their documents were obviously fake. But this can be reduced by £5,000 for general “co-operation”, plus another £5,000 for “reporting” workers.
- A December 2015 report by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration found that officers had warrants in only 43% of raids. In most cases, they claim that business managers grant “informed consent” to enter – but there is no documentation to support this.
- Officers also claim that they act with “consent” in routinely rounding up and questioning people who are not named suspects. But the Chief Inspector found: “in the 184 files we sampled there was no record of anyone being ‘invited’ to answer ‘consensual questions’”.
Online Access to the Report is available here: https://corporatewatch.org/news/2016/aug/30/snitches-stings-leaks-how-immigration-enforcement-works
A PDF version of this report is available to download.