Birmingham MP calls for answers over hundreds of Brits caught up in immigration checks

Picture courtesy of the Home Office (Creative Commons licence)

A Birmingham MP called for answers after figures revealed Monday showed that one out of every four people stopped by immigration officers in Birmingham are British nationals.

The data also showed that of all the nationalities stopped in Birmingham over a five-year period, Britons made up the largest category.

Edgbaston Labour MP Preet Gill said the figures raised as many questions as answers and called for more transparency from the Home Office.

The data was obtained as part of a nationwide investigation by The Bristol Cable and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. The Home Office only released the figures after a seven-month freedom of information battle.

But although the information released gave a breakdown of people questioned by nationality, there were no details about the ethnic background of those stopped.

Incomplete data

“It concerns me that we are being given data that we cannot really understand,” said Gill.

“The very fact that the data does not have details of the ethnic background of those stopped — and the fact that it took so long for the Home Office to release the information — raises real concerns about racial profiling.”

Between January 2012 and January 2017, immigration officers stopped 1,966 Brits in Birmingham out of a total of 7,516 stopped in the city.

That one-in-four rate was significantly higher than the one-in-five average recorded for the 11 cities covered by the investigation.

Britons also topped the list of nationalities stopped in Birmingham, ahead of Indians and Pakistanis, who each made up 20 percent of the total.

Birmingham came near the top of the list for the number of Britons stopped and questioned, behind London (8,002) and just behind Manchester (2,143).

Ops are ‘intelligence-led’: Home Office

A Home Office response to the figures said all operations were intelligence-led and respected anti-discrimination laws.

But as well as Gill, other several campaigners have voiced concern that the figures released no details about the ethnic background of the people stopped by immigration officers.

“If this data is not recorded and disclosed, it is impossible to monitor this system for racial bias,” said Chai Patel, legal director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.

“There must be a greater commitment to transparency and clear, public guidelines on what constitutes actionable intelligence.”

The figures obtained in the investigation covered 11 cities: nine across England as well as Cardiff and Glasgow.

 

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