Reid rings the changes at 'inadequate' Home Office

Indicating that the scale of the foreign prisoner fiasco could be far wider than originally suspected, he also disclosed that more than 80 serious offenders are still on the run.

Making his first appearance before the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee since he replaced Charles Clarke just over two weeks ago, he acknowledged that he had faced a "tidal waves of events".

He said that without sweeping change, the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) - which he protested was dealing with 21st century problems using 20th century methods - would continue to fail to cope.

In comments seen as a swipe at his predecessors, he said: "Our system is not fit for purpose. It is inadequate in terms of its scope, it is inadequate in terms of its information technology, leadership, management, systems and processes.

"We're in a state of change from a paper-based system that wasn't working to a technology-based system that seems to be on the horizon, but isn't getting much nearer."

Although he insisted the department was not "intrinsically dysfunctional", he made plain his frustration over the quality of the advice he was receiving.

"I have to be honest with you and say I haven't had a fact or figure that hasn't been revised in a very short time," he told MPs.

Asked whether any senior civil servants would lose their jobs over the release of more than 1,000 foreign prisoners without deportation hearings, Mr Reid replied: "If there are people culpable, they will have to bear responsibility."

Liam Byrne, the new Immigration minister, is expected to produce proposals for wide-ranging reform of the IND by the summer, while Sir David Normington, Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, has been instructed by Mr Reid to set out plans for improving the entire department's management as a "matter of urgency".

Mr Reid released figures showing that 85 serious offenders still have not been tracked down, a month after the controversy became public. They included eight people convicted of the "most serious" offences, such as manslaughter or sex attacks. The Home Secretary said he was open to the idea of publicising the names of the eight if police supported the move. It also emerged that the released foreign offenders had gone on to commit a further 204 offences, including six sex offences, three serious violent crimes, and 11 cases of actual bodily harm.

Mr Clarke said originally that 1,023 foreign prisoners had been freed without deportation hearings. Mr Reid revised the figure yesterday to 1,019, but signalled the true figure could be several hundred higher, as he disclosed that for some years before 2004, details of some freed prisoners were not passed to the IND as there was no court recommendation to deport.

Mr Reid made a series of initial proposals for tightening controls including the creation of a personal numbering system to keep track of anyone who came into contact with the criminal justice, immigration or asylum systems, and devising ways to stop prisoners failing to declare their nationality.

He also revealed new details of the weekend's "sex-for-visas" scandal, in which it was alleged a senior immigration officer offered to speed up a Zimbabwean teenager's asylum claim in return for sex. The man at the centre of the allegations is subject to a police investigation as well as a Home Office inquiry, Mr Reid said, adding that he did not want to "pre-judge" the case.

Migrant data

* A record 217,475 people applied for British citizenship in 2005, 64 per cent up on the previous year. The number granted citizenship was 161,780, up 15 per cent. The rise was down to people submitting their papers before the "Britishness" test is introduced in November.

* Asylum claims rose 5 per cent in the first three months of 2006 to 6,455 compared with the final quarter of last year, because of a near-doubling of claims by Zimbabweans.

* In February the Government finally hit its target for removing more failed asylum-seekers than the number making unfounded claims.

* 392,000 people from the eight central and eastern European states which joined the EU in 2004 have come to Britain.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Manager, Spanish, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

Account Manager, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

English Teacher

£22000 - £36000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary English Teacher...

Content Manager - Central London

£35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Central...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on