Senior UK immigration officials have been accused of misleading parliament by claiming that they had dealt with a backlog of tens of thousands of immigration claims that were still unresolved.
A report from John Vine, the chief inspector of borders and immigration, stated that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) had been inefficient in its handling of archived applications submitted before March 2007.
Mr Vine stated: “I found that updates given by the agency to parliament in the summer of 2011, stating that the legacy of unresolved asylum cases was resolved, were inaccurate.” He added: “In fact, the programme of legacy work is far from resolved.”
The paper reported that the UKBA had claimed it had dealt with a backlog of some 147,000 asylum and immigration cases. It also accused officials of failing to conduct proper security checks or examine the records of other government departments effectively.
“An examination of controlled archive cases showed that the security checks – which the agency stated were being done on these cases – had not been undertaken in routinely or consistently since April 2011,” the report stated.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs select committee, called the report “devastating” for the way in which it highlighted failings within the UKBA to administrate the country's immigration procedures.
Chris Bryant, shadow immigration minister, added: “The Tory-led government made big promises on immigration and changing the UKBA. But quite simply the UKBA an the split-off Border Force are getting worse and worse.”
The government had promised to lower immigration levels to the “tens of thousands” by 2015 by improving the system and introducing tighter regulations and restrictions on visa access. However, this is the latest in a number of slip-ups in this area and it is looking increasingly unlikely that these targets will be met.