Banks told to perform immigration checks for Home Office: Here's how that might go

Both organisations have a history of making horrible mistakes

James Moore
Chief Business Commentator
Friday 22 September 2017 10:23 BST
What could possibly go wrong when Amber Rudd’s top immigration enforcers get the first information drop from their new watchdog?
What could possibly go wrong when Amber Rudd’s top immigration enforcers get the first information drop from their new watchdog? (PA)

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


The scene: Home Office towers. Janet and John, Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s top immigration enforcers, are awaiting the first information drop from their new police force: Britain’s banks and building societies. They’ve been told to carry out checks on all their current account holders to identify the baddies from the next Marvel film, and the source of all that is wrong with Britain: illegal immigrants.

A combination of the banks and the Home Office. With those two acting as watchdogs, surely anyone in Britain illegally will be texting “Home” to that number Theresa May set up when she was Home Secretary before you could say “book me on the next flight out of here”?

But, then again, perhaps not:

Janet: So what’s it look like? (She notices John banging his head against his desk). Oh dear. What’s up?

John: Well we’ve just got the results from Big Evil Bank plc and they’ve only gone and sent us a list of what looks like everyone with the first name “Mohammed”.

Janet: Crap.

John: It gets worse. Look at this. They’ve thrown in everyone with a European surname too. Oh, and for some reason, there’s a couple of thousand Martinsons on there.

Janet: Don’t you mean Martensen?

John: No, it’s definitely Martinson.

Janet: Christ. OK, d’you want to get me a cuppa. I’ll ring them. I’m sure it’s just glitch.

John disappears off to the tea room, returning to find that Janet is now banging her head against the desk.

John: What’s up?

Janet: I’m wading my way through a blasted phone menu. I keep having to press zero for “for any other inquiries”. Every other option is trying to sell me something I don’t want.

John: Don’t we have a direct line?

Janet: Don’t you read the news? They got rid of them all last week. Ooh. Hang on. If you have an immigration query press seven!

The office phone rings. John picks it up

John: Hello. Home Office immigration enforcement. How may I help you? What? Janet?

Janet (after swearing loudly): Best start again. No, no, I don’t want a new credit card. I’m pressing zero. Zero, zero, zero... I want to speak to someone!

Three hours, sixteen cups of tea and a packet of digestive biscuits (but not the chocolate kind, cost cutting) later.

Janet: Yes! Finally got through to someone.

Big Evil Bank Employee: Big Bank exists to serve. How may I help you?

Janet: You bloody fools have sent us a list of everyone named Mohammed, everyone with a European surname, and, for some reason, everyone in Britain named Martinson.

Big Evil Bank Employee: Oh. Don’t you mean Martensen?

Janet: No it says everyone on this list named MARTINSON might be an illegal immigrant.

Big Evil Bank Employee: Oh dear. I’m terribly sorry about that. You see, the immigration checks you asked us to perform are all done by an automated system. We bought it from the people you people used to set up your systems, just to be on the safe side.

Janet: Oh, ah…

Big Evil Bank Employee: If you’d like to make a complaint I can put you through to our complaints department?

Janet: Can’t you just put me through to someone who can actually sort this out?

Big Evil Bank Employee: Sorry, I’m not authorised to do that. And I’m not sure who’s staffing the immigration department now anyway. Our CEO has been on a cost-cutting drive to make sure his long-term incentive scheme pays out. He wants a new yacht, I think. They’ve even stopped us from having chocolate digestives.

Janet: I hear you there. Sigh. Go on then, put me through to complaints. Hang on a moment. How long’s it likely to take?

Big Evil Bank Employee: To get through to the complaints department? About three hours. We’re experiencing a high volume of calls.

Janet slams the phone down and starts banging her head on the desk again.

John: Guess we’d better get started wading through this lot then. Cup of tea first?

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in