Foreign killer and criminals 'granted British citizenship', damning report reveals

Staff said to rely almost entirely on automated checks to confirm character

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Indy Politics

Theresa May is under renewed pressure over her handling of the immigration system after a damning report revealed that a killer was among a number foreign nationals whose British passport applications were approved without proper criminal record checks.

Among others granted citizenship were people who had entered the country illegally, were working illegally or had a history of absconding.

The new blow to the Home Secretary’s reputation on immigration was delivered by John Vine, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.

Mr Vine warned that officials had failed to conduct “good character” checks on applicants and had approved the issue of passports to people with “very poor immigration histories”.

During their scrutiny earlier this year of 179 applications, inspectors uncovered the case of a person who admitted stabbing someone to death in their home country.

Missing details on a database, combined with the practice of not checking paper files, meant the official examining the application approved the killer’s citizenship.

Mr Vine said staff relied almost entirely on automated checks against the police national computer and immigration databases to confirm the “good character” of potential citizens, such as confirming that they had no criminal record, a history of fraud or large unpaid debts.

 

“No attempts were made to check an applicant’s criminal record in the country of nationality, despite Home Office guidance on how to obtain this from many countries around the world,” he said. “The absence of such checks provided opportunities for a dishonest application to conceal a criminal history.”

His findings raised a question mark over the system under which some 200,000 citizenship applications – giving people the right to a passport, to vote and to hold public office – are approved each year by the Home Office.

It follows the Home Secretary’s admission that the Government will not keep David Cameron’s promise to cut net migration to below 100,000 by next year’s general election.

Ms May was accused by Labour of trying to “bury bad news” by delaying the report’s publication for more than three months and faced demands to make an urgent statement on its conclusions.

Mr Vine presented his report to the Home Secretary on September 1. The Independent disclosed last month that he had complained that the delay in publishing his reports promptly had diluted their impact.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said: “When Home Office failures allow murderers to get British citizenship the Home Secretary should take action and not seek to manage the bad news.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said yesterday: “Reports are laid as soon as they are ready for publication. Some reports require significant consideration and the development of new guidance or processes… This can cause unavoidable delays.”

Immigration headaches: Three months of problems for Theresa May

October

A damaging picture of waste, mismanagement and IT problems in the asylum system is painted by the Commons public accounts committee. It says 11,000 asylum seekers are still waiting, after more than seven years, for an initial decision on whether they can remain.

The number of foreign prisoners is revealed as 10,649, and the numbers being removed each year are falling, the National Audit Office reports. This comes more than eight years after Charles Clarke was forced to resign as Home Secretary over the disclosure that asylum seekers had been released without being considered for deportation.

November

Net annual migration climbs to 260,000, more than the amount the Coalition inherited from Labour. Theresa May finally acknowledges that the Government is heading for failure over David Cameron’s promise to cut the number from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands by next year’s election.

December

A Home Office scheme to deport foreign criminals and save £10m a year is revealed to have led to only two offenders leaving Britain. The annual target was 62.

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