A joint investigation by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), the College of Policing (CoP) and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found that victims of crime with insecure or uncertain immigration status are fearful that, if they report crimes to the police, their information will be shared with the Home Office.
The report was published following a policing super-complaint, submitted by Liberty and Southall Black Sisters on 18 December 2018. The super-compliant concerned migrant victims in vulnerable circumstances, usually arising out of domestic abuse or modern slavery and human trafficking. This was also a first ever super-complaint lodged against the police.
The investigation found that there are inconsistent approaches to information sharing between police and the Home Office about victims and witnesses to crime, and found that the current system was causing significant harm to the public interest. Liberty and Southall Black Sisters said that victims and witnesses with an unsettled immigration status are currently deterred from engaging with the police because of fears that this may make their situation worse. Consequently, victims are denied justice, while offenders go unpunished and remain a threat to the public. The report supported this conclusion.
The investigation’s recommendations included:
- where officers only have concerns or doubts about a domestic abuse victim’s immigration status, they should immediately stop sharing with Immigration Enforcement information on those victims;
- the Home Office should review the relevant legal framework and policy to establish sound and fair priorities regarding migrant victims of crime and migrant witnesses to crime, with insecure or uncertain immigration status;
- the Home Office and the National Police Chiefs’ Council should develop a safeguarding protocol about the police approach to migrant victims and witnesses of crime; and
- the police should establish safe reporting pathways for all migrant victims and witnesses to crime.
Please find the full report here.