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Health and safety worries as Immigration gets new powers

Health and safety worries as Immigration officers get new powers

The Public Service Association believes that new powers for Immigration’s compliance officers will lead to increased workloads and health and safety problems.

Today marks the introduction of new detention and arrest powers as part of changes in the Immigration Act 2009.

Forty officers around the country were given two-weeks’ training for a job previously carried out by the police who, in comparison, have years of on-going training and support. Until now, only the police could detain a person under the Immigration Act 2009.

“Officers who have undergone the training believe that it’s inadequate and are actually stressed at the thought of having to use the new powers,” says PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff.

Despite the new health and safety risk no new pay has been offered to officers, instead they have been given a one off ‘recognition of training’ payment and asked to accept and sign a new job description which includes the new measures.

“Compliance officers already have an important and stressful role to carry out. Without them our country would be worse off. Even though there are a high levels of concern, most officers will probably sign the new job description out of fear of losing their jobs if they don’t,” says Richard Wagstaff.

Not only do the new powers come with heightened risk but there will also be a significant increase in paperwork as each instance of use has to be well documented.

“This is not better efficiency, it’s just cost-cutting that puts staff under more pressure and at considerable risk,” says Richard Wagstaff.

The majority of the provisions in the Immigration Act 2009 (the Immigration Act) came into effect on 29 November 2010. However, the new powers of arrest, detention, entry and search were staggered to allow time for appropriate training and safeguards to be developed.


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