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Border and Immigration Agency: IPCC Oversight

Volume 698: debated on Monday 4 February 2008

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Borders and Immigration and Minister for the West Midlands (Mr Liam Byrne) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government are soon to introduce a single border force to deliver stronger policing of ports and airports. Along with these changes we will be equipping agency staff with a wide array of police powers, such as those set out in the UK Borders Act. These include powers of detention at ports, powers to arrest a person who has committed or is about to commit an offence of assaulting an immigration officer, and powers to enter and search premises for evidence of an arrested individual's nationality.

Before these powers are introduced it is important that effective oversight arrangements are in place. On 26 July 2007, therefore, I announced the publication of a consultation document on matters related to the implementation of measures in the Police and Justice Act 2006 to extend the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s jurisdiction to cover the Border and Immigration Agency’s enforcement functions. I wish to inform the House that I am publishing today an analysis of responses; a government policy statement setting out the Government’s consideration of issues raised by respondents; and regulations, subject to negative resolution, which will extend the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s jurisdiction in this regard. Copies of these regulations and documents have been placed in the House Library.

The IPCC will provide independent oversight of the most serious complaints, incidents and misconduct matters where police powers are used by immigration officers and officials. This oversight will be similar to that which the IPCC provides for the police and other law enforcement bodies such as Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

The new chief inspector created by the UK Borders Act 2007 will monitor the efficiency and effectiveness of the agency’s processes and practices as a whole. The IPCC will look at individual cases. The chief inspector will work closely with the IPCC to ensure comprehensive independent external scrutiny of our activities. The IPCC already oversees the work of HM Revenue and Customs colleagues, a number of whom will be joining the UK Border Agency.

I welcome this new oversight and would like to inform the House that similar oversight provisions are currently being developed for Scotland and Northern Ireland.