The Home Office

Accident and Emergency and the UK Border are two places where your resources have very little effect on how you are treated. A&E doctors, nurses and unreliable data-driven e-gates at the airport serve everyone with the same passport equally, no matter how much money you have, whether you have settled or pre-settled status, whether you have leave to remain; the same Home Office culture runs across it all.

In our wider work, as medConfidential looks at data across government, we keep finding the institutionally secretive, invasive and nasty Home Office undermining good governance. We have therefore created this page to collate work on various aspects of Home Office data malfeasance. 

Whether through its ‘Common Data Platform’, heralded in its 2013 Technology Strategy – though clearly not yet fully delivered according to its strategy for 2024 – the barely constrained Home Office Biometrics programme (HOB) and its 6 year late, so-called ‘biometrics strategy’, or its multifarious “Watchlist”, “Status-checking” and AtlasCaseworking” systems, the approach of the Home Office and its agencies is to mix data on everyone they deal with.

And, as with its latest expansion of digital identity checks, to bring “in scope” all those who seek employment and to rent a home – namely all British and all Irish citizens, in addition to those from the EU, and from beyond, or who claim sanctuary from harm here.

Will the public see positive change?

The culture is insidious, infecting all it touches. Home Office institutional corruption is creeping across the public services and even into the NHS, via visitor charging rules –the response to recommendation 26 of the Lewisham and Greenwich migrant charging inquiry being just one example of its corrupting influence at work; how often does an NHS Trust refuse to publish a simple public statement of what changed?

medConfidential’s efforts are directed at making the hope (and reality) of systemic reform more plausible, practical and possible – rather than persisting with despair at the status quo. Which is one reason why we recommend every reform “produces a statement that captures in an easy format document as to what has changed… so that members of the public can see quickly those positive changes.”

Things will only improve if an expectation of the truth-telling of medicine and accountability of the NHS is brought to the toxic soup of the Home Office and its agencies. While tragedies happen, the health service must keep track of everyone who dies, and why. And the NHS knows it is imperfect, whether because of the inverse care law, or the fact that in some areas customer satisfaction can be more correlated with race than the quality of care.

As the NHS and wider care system protect the health of the country, so should the Home Office be tasked with protecting the humanity of the country.

Timeline

2021

2020

Earlier 

  • The Windrush scandal began to surface in 2017 as stories emerged about hundreds of Commonwealth citizens, many from the ‘Windrush’ generation, who had been wrongly detained, deported and denied their legal rights.
  • Other examples of the Home Office’s deeply flawed and discriminatory immigration system impacting on the entirely innocent:
    • Demanding identity documents from an 8 day old baby, to prove her right to free healthcare – “clerical error”;
    • Telling a lawfully resident scientist (and others) they must leave the country – “typo”.