Hitting Home: Review of the Home Office’s actions finds evidence of institutional racism surrounding Windrush generation

April 10, 2020

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What's going on here?

A recent review was released of the Home Office’s actions surrounding the Windrush generation which found evidence of “institutional racism and thoughtlessness”. In response, Priti Patel, Home Secretary, accepted that there were “structural and cultural” issues and formally apologised for those affected.

What does this mean?

Wendy Williams, HM Inspector of the Constabulary, wrote an independent review into the Home Office, which was published in March 2020. Within the report, Ms Williams produced a number of critical allegations of racial motivations, continuing financial difficulties for victims, and a dehumanising nature of the Home Office’s approach to those detained.

Labour MP, David Lammy, concluded that the Home Office was unfit for Britain’s multicultural society, stating there was a “failure of the department to understand Britain’s colonial history”. Mr Lammy went on to insist that there is a wholescale redevelopment of the Home Office in order to ensure that such a scandal does not occur again. Similarly, the Joint Committee on Human Rights also advised that there must be a reform of the current system (see our article on that here). 

Priti Patel has stated that she would produce a detailed response within the next 6 months, as Wendy Williams recommended. Other recommendations included further scrutiny into the Home Office and extended investigations to those who may have been wrongfully deported to other Commonwealth nations.

What's the big picture effect?

Whilst it appears that there has been more accountability surrounding the Home Office’s actions, most believe that this is not enough. Various race equality and migrant rights organisations are now calling for a review into the extent of institutional racism and whether the Home Office’s immigration policies comply with UK equality laws. Accounts from those affected by the Windrush detention claim that they still suffer from financial and social struggles and fear that they will be threatened by immigration enforcement action if they seek assistance. 

Moreover, it is likely that a redevelopment of the Home Office and its accountability and complaints environment will need to be rehauled in an attempt to produce fairer outcomes for those individuals involved. Whilst a compensation scheme has been created for those affected, it does not appear to be sufficient. It is questionable whether the Home Office will offer further forms of support over the next year. 

Ms Williams blamed the “culture of disbelief and carelessness” as well as the government’s attempt to produce tough immigration controls as reasons for the wrongful detention of the Windrush individuals. Yet it is unclear how the Home Office will deal with such allegations as border control has become an accepted process by which states maintain their sovereignty. Will Priti Patel’s response ever be enough to make up for the effects caused by the Windrush scandal?

Report written by Sophie Hardava

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