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Local Immigration Teams To Be Introduced Across UK

Home Office (UK)

Local Immigration Teams To Be Introduced Across The UK

New Local Immigration Teams are being introduced across the UK, alongside Local Crime Partnerships with police, as part of a major refocus of the work of the UK Border Agency (UKBA), Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced today.

Around 7,500 UKBA officers and staff up and down the UK will be reorganised into 70-80 Local Immigration Teams and given a clear mission to focus on local immigration crime.

The Government's plans, set out in 'Enforcing the Deal' published today, set a clear focus for the UKBA's work in Britain to target the removal from the UK of the most harmful people first. This will be achieved through a raft of measures including; automatic deportation for serious offenders, over 1,000 extra immigration staff focused on enforcement duties, action against employers who break the law and new partnerships with local authorities and enforcement agencies to shut down the privileges of the UK to those breaking the rules.

Launching the new strategy, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:

"When newcomers come here they enter into a deal with the UK - to work hard, play by the rules and earn their right to stay.

"To ensure that deal is delivered we have already increased resources by putting 1,000 additional immigration staff on enforcement duties and are on-track to double our enforcement resources by 2009/10, and deliver Immigration Crime Partnerships in every part of the UK.

"Central to this plan will also be the creation of Local Immigration Teams, bringing our staff closer to the communities we serve. They will have the local knowledge to tackle a community's specific needs - tracking down illegal migrants, targeting those companies that flout the rules, or gathering intelligence by working with a range of local agencies.

"The UK's immigration system is undergoing the biggest shake-up for a generation, and these changes will ensure our frontline officers can continue to implement these reforms, and meet the tough targets we have set the UK Border Agency."

Each local team will enforce the full range of immigration laws, concentrating on intelligence gathering, the disruption of illegal activity, tracking down and detaining immigration offenders and failed asylum seekers, and tackling illegal working. The new teams will work shoulder-to-shoulder with police, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, and local partner agencies, in a new series of partnerships announced today. Staff in Birmingham, Croydon, Glasgow, Liverpool and Sheffield will also fingerprint foreign nationals applying for their ID cards from November this year.

Also announced today was the UKBA's partnership with the fraud prevention body CIFAS, which is subject to Parliamentary approval this summer. This will see names and addresses of foreign nationals of interest to the agency - those who have been removed from the UK and who have been convicted of immigration offences - shared through the CIFAS database with over 270 financial service, telecoms and utility companies, to assist them in tackling fraud.

Employers will also be able to speak to UKBA local teams for advice on employing migrant labour and preventing the hiring of illegal workers. Companies that continue to break the rules and hire those without the right to work now face huge fines of up to £10,000 per illegal worker - from today those businesses hit with fines will be named on the UKBA's website.

Today's plans set out a clear set of priorities for the new Local Immigration Teams to enforce the deal that newcomers will play by the rules, or face the consequences. Priorities include:

* the removal of those with no right to be here, or who pose a threat, targeting the most harmful - more than 5,000 foreign national prisoners will be removed by the end of 2008;

* holding those individuals, businesses, colleges, organisations and facilitators who break UK laws to account - 5,000 operations to identify and penalise organisations will be carried out in 2008/9;

* to have in place Immigration Crime Partnerships across the UK by March 2009;

* to deliver a Border Intelligence Service by October 2008; and

* fingerprinting foreign nationals for ID cards starting from November 2008 to help deny the privileges of the UK to those who break the rules.

Today's announcement was also welcomed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police and ACPO lead for immigration Grahame Maxwell said:

"The report published today is a positive step forward. Tackling immigration crime requires close working between police forces, the UK Border Agency and other local partners. The arrangements set out today should strengthen that approach. We welcome particularly the commitment to respond to every police request when dealing with immigration offenders.

"The police will continue to work closely with the UK Border Agency to achieve our ambition in combating organised immigration crime and to create a hostile environment for those who commit these offences."

Welcoming UKBA's proposed partnership with CIFAS Peter Hurst, CIFAS Chief Executive, said:

"We are delighted at the prospect of welcoming UKBA into CIFAS membership. With fraud growing rapidly in both the public and the private sectors, and the pressure this creates for the resourcing of public services, UKBA's decision represents a positive step forward in the fight to stop illegal entrants to the UK diverting resources from those with the legal right to be here and legitimate needs."

Today's plan also announced partnerships with local authorities to help combat abuse of local authority services by illegal immigrants.

Councillor Mike Rye Leader of Enfield Council, one of UKBA's partnership authorities, said:

"Having a UKBA officer in situ in our offices will be an immense help in all areas of our work - I am really pleased that Enfield Council has been chosen to pilot this new way of working. This partnership will be a great asset in helping us combat fraud, speeding up checks on the immigration status of people applying for council services, and improving the exchange of information between the Council and the UK Border Agency for child protection purposes."

Reforms set out in 'Enforcing the Deal' include:

* from today, the UK Border Agency is naming and shaming employers who hire illegal immigrants;

* from this summer the most serious business offenders will be targeted jointly by UKBA and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in a new intelligence sharing and joint targeting partnership which will come into force from July;

* employers and colleges applying for carefully policed licences to hire migrants;

* there will be a joint investment and business plan between UKBA and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA);

* automatic deportation will be introduced for those sentenced to 12 months in prison or more, and deportation will be imposed for those who use guns or sell drugs regardless of their sentence;

* watch-lists of immigration offenders will be shared with DWP, HMRC and private sector fraud prevention agency CIFAS;

* by January 2009, UKBA will have increased the number of foreign national prisoners removed to over 5,000 during 2008;

* Local Immigration Teams will be up and running in each region;

* a UKBA Criminal Investigation Division will be in place;

* 90 per cent of constabularies in England and Wales will have Immigration Crime Partnerships in place; and

* five local authority partnerships will have been deployed and evaluated.

Together these measures show how the UKBA plans to detect, detain and deport those with no right to be in the UK and to provide support to businesses and communities to ensure the country gets the migrants who will benefit UK socially and economically.

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. Enforcing the Deal: Our plans for enforcing the immigration laws in UK's communities can be found at http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk/

2. The list of non-compliant employers can be found at the UKBA website at http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/employers

3. Further information about CIFAS is available at http://www.cifas.org.uk

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ENDS

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