Today, I am pleased to announce the publication of the Home Office’s review into data sharing arrangements between the Home Office and police on migrant victims and witnesses of crime with insecure immigration status.
The review follows a commitment made in response to recommendation 2 of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services “Safe to Share” report, published in December 2020.
Having considered the views of domestic abuse and modern slavery sector groups the Home Office review acknowledges the concerns raised around the current data sharing arrangements and recognises that there is room for improvement to give migrant victims greater confidence to report crimes committed against them.
The Home Office is committed to supporting the reporting of crime affecting anyone and this includes migrants who have insecure immigration status. Current data sharing practices between the police and the Home Office are essential in protecting those most vulnerable and protecting the public from individuals who are considered to pose a risk of harm to communities.
The review recommends establishing an immigration enforcement migrant victims protocol as an alternative to a data sharing firewall and to give greater transparency to victims on how their data will be shared. The protocol will set out that no immigration enforcement action should be taken against that victim while investigation and prosecution proceedings are ongoing, and the victim is receiving support and advice to make an application to regularise their stay. It will set out, in line with the code of practice for victims rights, what information and signposting IE could offer to migrant victims to help them regularise their stay and thereby reduce the threat of coercion and control by their perpetrators.
The review sets out a commitment to identify safeguards to mitigate the deterrence effect of data sharing and explore analytical options to assess the barriers to reporting crime(s) amongst migrants with insecure immigration status within the UK, to identify further initiatives that could encourage reporting.
The police and Home Office will develop and implement a comprehensive stakeholder and outreach engagement programme designed to promote reporting of crime amongst migrants with irregular immigration status. A key component of this work will focus on building trust and confidence in immigration enforcement and police activities in supporting migrant victims.
The review has been laid before the House and will also be available on www.gov.uk.