MP’s on the Home Affairs Committee have welcomed plans by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) to create a ‘National Allegations Database’ to manage the huge flow of information and reports from the public on possible immigration violations, the Guardian reports.
In the report on the UKBA’s work between December 2011 and March 2012, the committee says that overall, only 4% of the intelligence reports received from the public resulted in enforcement. Outlining the figures, the document says that out of 25,600 allegations about possible illegal immigrants or other immigration violations received from the public between 9 December and 29 March, just 900 resulted in an enforcement visit.
It explains that although the agency is performing well in assessing tip-offs from the public quickly, with 98% of the 25,600 allegations during December 2011 and March 2012 being assessed in 48 hours, it is still interested in the “low yield” of actionable intelligence that results from these tip-offs.
“We will be asking the agency to identify the main reasons for this. We understand it may be the result of the quality of the information reported to the agency and we expect to hear from the agency what its plan is to improve the quality of the information it receives when the database goes live,” says the document.
Previous reports by the committee have highlighted an inconsistent approach by the agency to recording and following up on intelligence leads. The committee believes that the launch of the database will help the agency improve its performance in following up on tip-offs from citizens.
“We note the fact that the agency is having discussions over how feedback can be provided to those who report allegations when requested and appropriate, this will help to give the public confidence that genuine concerns are being investigated,” says the report.
“We repeat our previous recommendation which is that people who make genuine complaints need to be told about the outcome.”
The report says that the UKBA has confirmed the design of the database has been agreed, funding secured and an assessment has been made of staffing and operational requirements needed. The committee says it will be monitoring the progress of the database.
A spokesman for the Home Office told Government Computing that testing was still being carried out on the system and that it is expected to go live in September.
It should be noted that the UKBA already have databases and as well as the multi-billion points-based system IT network.
There is an existing email based reporting system on the UKBA website that handles tipoffs and reports, which presumably go into some sort of database?
Whatever IT system is in place, the UKBA still needs the manpower to pick up the email and act on the information.
Successive government departments (HMRC, NHS) have spent billions of pounds of taxpayers money on ‘all singing and dancing’ computer systems which were later scrapped.
The previous government said that the UK would have a fully operational count-in and count-out system to monitor all Tier 4 students, migrants and UK tourists by 2014.
In its report on the UKBA, the committee also raises concerns about a huge backlog of 276,000 immigration cases – equivalent to the population of Newcastle.
The latest damning report on the agency’s work also said the committee did not believe the Government’s aim of cutting the 260,000 student visas issued each year by a quarter would benefit the UK.
Overseas tax paying students should be excluded from the net migration figures instead, it said.
Britain would then continue to attract international students, a market worth £7.9 billion, and still be able to aim to meet Prime Minister David Cameron’s pledge to cut net migration from 250,000 to the tens of thousands by 2015, the report said.
Mr Vaz added: “This will enable the Government to encourage students to come to the UK whilst maintaining their position on curbing immigration.”
Earlier this year, a group of UK universities called on the government to remove overseas students from immigration figures.
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