Immigration officers are reportedly being rewarded shopping vouchers, cash incentives and extra holidays in return for winning tribunal cases against people that are seeking asylum in Britain.
The Guardian reports that Home Office staff have been set a target of winning 70 per cent of tribunal cases in which asylum seekers are appealing against government decisions that they should leave the UK.
The move is understood to be part of the departments “performance measurement process” with staff identified as “exceptionally effective” being rewarded in a number of ways that include gift vouchers, cash bonuses and extra holidays.
A written parliamentary answer posed last November revealed 11 high street shopping vouchers for £25 have been distributed to presenting officers in asylum cases since July 2012 as a “one-off recognition of individual performance at court”. But immigration minister Mark Harper said at the time that that no vouchers had been issued purely for winning cases at the immigration tribunals as several factors are taken into consideration.
Sarah Teather MP, a prominent Liberal Democrat and former minister, said such schemes “completely undermine any sense that the system will give a fair hearing to those who come here seeking sanctuary from war and persecution”.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “It is not true that individual officers prioritise cases that are most likely to succeed and any decision to withdraw a case has to be approved at a more senior level. The success of our officers in upholding asylum decisions is only one of a range of criteria we use to monitor staff performance. All our staff are expected to meet appropriate professional standards.”