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Immigration Status Inquiries

Volume 571: debated on Monday 2 December 2013

12. How many random inquiries on immigration status have been made in public places in each of the last six months. (901344)

That is a surprising answer, because a number of us have witnessed immigration officers at Metropolitan line and other tube stations around London stopping people and asking them for their immigration status. Will the Minister assure me that no immigration officer would ever stop anyone randomly in a public place, ask them for identity documents and then call in the police to assist them with their inquiries, when there is no requirement to carry identity cards at any time in this country? Indeed, such identity cards do not even exist.

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we do not conduct random operations; we conduct intelligence-led operations, as did the previous Government, and they are very successful. The street operations we have conducted this year have led to the arrest of almost a third of those encountered. They are very successful in enforcing our immigration laws. We do not stop people at random; we are not empowered to do so by law and even if we were, we would not do so as a matter of policy. We stop people when we think there is intelligence to indicate that they are breaking our immigration laws, and I make no apology for that.

I thank the Minister and his staff for the support they gave recently to a constituent of mine to clarify a situation and smooth over the problems.

The number of illegals being identified by the police at the ferry terminals in my area—which is part of the common travel area—has fallen only slightly. Is the Minister able to tell the House the number of people in that category who are stopped but not properly processed and who simply disappear?

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman’s opening remarks.

I do not have the figures to hand, because I was not aware that he intended to ask that question. I will look at the issue in detail and write to him, but on the common travel area in general, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims signed an agreement with the Irish Justice Minister in, I think, December 2011. We are taking steps with the Irish Republic to strengthen the common travel area to make sure that our borders continue to get more secure.