UK Border Agency to be dismantled due to ‘closed, secretive and defensive’ culture

by zoejardiniere

29.03.2013. The UK Home Secretary, Theresa May has announced that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) is to be dissolved and transformed into two separate units, an immigration and visa service and an immigration law enforcement department. Neither of the two new units will have agency status, but will operate from within the UK Home Office and report directly to ministers.

Theresa May said that the separation of UKBA from the Home Office had led to a ‘closed, secretive and defensive’ culture and that its performance is ‘not good enough’. This follows a recent statement by the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee that successive UKBA Chief Executives had presided over ‘chaos’ and ‘calamitous inefficiency’.

UKBA has been plagued throughout its existence by criticism, including the most recent report by the Home Affairs select Committee, revelations of huge backlogs of pending visa and asylum cases, allegations of mistreatment, and of mix-ups in migrants’ data records. The British and Scottish Refugee Councils have commented on the news that they agree with the assessment that UKBA was not fit for purpose; however they are cautious in their praise, emphasising that time will tell if this move will lead to positive change. Both expressed the hope that this restructuring will be taken as an opportunity to develop a more humane asylum system that puts protection of refugees and asylum seekers’ rights at its heart.

The chairman, along with other members of the Home Affairs Select Committee, raised some concerns directly following the announcement. This included the question as to how a radical change in culture will be achieved given that the new units will be staffed by the same people, with the same leadership, in the same buildings, carrying out the same tasks, touching on the concern that this is merely a re-branding exercise.

For further information:

–         Migrants Rights Network, Theresa May announces UKBA to be scrapped, 26 March 2013

–         New Statesman, Without the UK Border Agency, what will happen to those seeking sanctuary on our shores?, 28 March 2013