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Windrush: Home Office offered bonuses to private firm that detained and removed citizens

Documents suggest department could be withholding crucial evidence, about the wrongful removals and deportations, from an inquiry into the scandal

May Bulman
Social Affairs Correspondent
Friday 14 September 2018 14:15 BST
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Sajid Javid said outsourcing company Capita operated on an “outcome-based payment mechanism” between 2012 and 2016
Sajid Javid said outsourcing company Capita operated on an “outcome-based payment mechanism” between 2012 and 2016 (PA)

The Home Office offered bonuses to the private firm responsible for removing Windrush citizens, on exceeding its deportation targets, newly released documents show.

Letters from the Home Office to a parliamentary committee also reveal the department may be withholding crucial evidence about wrongful detentions and removals from an inquiry into the scandal.

Figures released by the home secretary after a request by the Joint Committee on Human Rights show the department’s contract with outsourcing company Capita gave the company a bonus payment of 2.5 per cent, above a certain target for removals from the UK. This increased to 12.5 per cent if the total exceeded the target by 10 per cent.

Harriet Harman, chair of the committee, wrote to Sajid Javid last month seeking details of the contract with Capita, which was contracted to deal with people who applied for leave to remain in the UK but had been refused – a position many of the Windrush citizens found themselves in.

The home secretary responded that Capita operated an “outcome-based payment mechanism” between 2012 and 2016, with no individual bonuses for staff. There were, however, overall incentives to beat removal targets, he added.

After the firm waived concerns about commercial sensitivity, the Home Office sent the committee the section of the contract detailing the incentive scheme, which showed the it was paid between £10.58 and £22.63 per person contacted who left the UK voluntarily.

A Capita spokesperson said the firm's role was to contact the list of individuals provided by the Home Office, and claimed it did not receive any incentive payments under Clause 1.5 of the contract.

Separate documents released by Mr Javid to the Committee also reveal that the department is producing only “case summaries” for the individuals identified to be shared with the independent reviewer, Wendy Williams, for further examination.

Ms Harman said it was “crucial” that the case files of Windrush citizens caught up in the scandal were revealed in full. In a letter to the home secretary, she cited the cases of Anthony Bryan and Paulette Wilson, whose files were released on the Committee’s request in June and revealed multiple failings by the Home Office.

“The Home Office failed to take account of evidence that was on their files on multiple occasions and detained them without adequate justification,” she wrote.

Earlier this month, Home Office figures revealed more than 160 Windrush citizens could have been wrongfully detained or deported from the UK.

Responding to the revelations on Capita’s incentivised contract, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, said: “It is truly shocking that Home Office contracts explicitly incentivised Capita to profit from Theresa May’s deport-first, ask-questions-later approach.

“The true scale of this scandal is still being revealed and the Home Office have not come clean about how many of our fellow citizens were deported, forced into so-called voluntary deportations or detained as prisoners in their own country.

“Time and again under the Tories, private profit is put ahead of the public interest and even the rights of British citizens.”

A Capita spokesperson said: “In relation to the contact management and casework services contract, Capita’s role was to contact the list of individuals provided by the Home Office.

"Capita’s focus was on achieving quality targets and we did not receive any incentive payments under Clause 1.5 of the contract. The contract ended in October 2016.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Where someone is in the country illegally we will try, where possible, to secure a voluntary return. Our contract with Capita reflected this policy. This contract did not cover deportations.”

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