The UK Border Agency has released a statement on the Capita, the private bounty hunter company contracted to track down overstaying students and migrants so they can be removed or deported from the UK. The firm has been criticised for sending thousands of text messages, some to British Citizens of migrants with valid leave to remain in the UK, ordering them to “leave the country”.
The UKBA said Capita Business Services was awarded a contract with the UK Border Agency last October 2012 to provide a range of “contact management and caseworking services”.
In plain English, they have been hired to track down overstayers so they can be arrested and removed from the UK.
The UKBA added:
“It is vital that we contact people who no longer have permission to remain in the UK and facilitate their return home to maintain control over our immigration system.
“Capita is working on cases in the migrant refusal pool (MRP) which consists of records of people who have applied to remain in the UK but been refused or had their leave curtailed. Capita will be contacting these applicants to establish their current circumstances and, where appropriate, inform them of the requirement to leave the UK.
“Capita will typically be contacting foreign nationals who have entered the UK on valid visas and have subsequently been refused an extension of leave to remain, but evidence of their departure has not been confirmed.”
Capita contacting “thousands of migrants every week”, say UKBA
Capita has been checking cases since October against the UKBA’s records to identify which individuals should be contacted. Capita will “use various contact methods to establish an individual’s circumstances, including text message, letter, email and telephone”.
The UKBA confirmed that Capita is contacting “thousands of migrants every week”, and while the vast majority have been identified correctly, in a “small number of cases this might include people who are now legally in the UK”.
The agency defended the actions of Capita, pointing out that a migrant or student’s circumstances “may have changed or updates on their case may not have fed through in time to prevent Capita’s contact”.
One wonders what sort of database is being used, as it takes six months to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and a further eighteen months to obtain British Citizenship thereafter. Before you apply for ILR most people would have been in the UK legally for several years.
“We believe it is right to enforce the immigration rules. Allowing people with no right to be in the UK to stay indefinitely undermines the immigration system.
“We will continue to work closely with Capita to ensure the information they are using is as accurate as possible. If we receive evidence to show that an individual has valid leave or has left the UK we will update our records.”
Capita have been busy
Immigration advisers have noted a sharp increase in calls from overstayers arrested and detained pending removal from the UK. The commission driven Capita has been busy and appear to be getting on with the job of finding 150,000 overstayers in a way that the UKBA could not manage, rather like private traffic wardens or clamping companies who issue more tickets that the old government wardens.
Leading adviser Cynthia Barker said that since Christmas she has been inundated with calls from people detained and issued with removal orders.
“The phone is ringing day and night with calls from overstayers in detention centres, such as Yarlswood, or their desperate friends and relatives.
“Some are in relationships with British citizens or EEA nationals and should have taken steps to regularise their stay in the UK before being picked up.”
Detainees generally report that they are well cared for in the centres, despite the occasional riot, where they are referred to by operators Serco as “residents”.
However, detention centres are no holiday camps. The conditions experienced by detainees, which holds visa overstayers alongside convicted murders and rapists, are similar to those in prisons. Getting access to qualified legal advice to lodge an appeal or apply for bail is not always easy. Legal advisers often have difficulty obtaining same day appointments to see clients.
People in Britain today can be detained indefinitely, pending deportation or appeals.
Immigration Matters has teamed up with a network of immigration law practitioners to offer bail and appeal services for those who find themselves locked in detention centres.
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The UKBA now issues Capita’s contact details for reports of illegal immigrants or overstayers. Capita can be contacted on 0844 3754 636 or email CapitaContact@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.