One of the government's most controversial UK immigration tools has been dubbed “too blunt” and will not be rolled out across the country.
Home secretary Theresa May introduced vans bearing slogans that told immigrants to “go home of face arrest” earlier this year. They have been driven around a number of targeted London boroughs in the hope that they would encourage illegal immigrants to leave the country.
However, the vans were deemed divisive and problematic. The Advertising Standards Authority also called them up for containing inaccurate arrest figures.
Now, in addition to causing rifts, the vans have been shown to be ineffective and the home secretary has told MPs that she accepts they had “not been a good idea”. Speaking in the Commons to explain her decision to stop using them, Ms May said: “What I've done is looked at the interim evaluation in relation to the plans – and there were some returns achieved as a result of that.
“Politicians should be willing to step up to the plate and say when they think something actually hasn't been as good an idea, and I think they were too blunt an instrument.”
But while she admitted that the vans themselves were not a good idea, the home secretary went on to defend the government's overall attempts to tighten up UK immigration and visa access, stating that their actions against people overstaying their visas have resulted in “something around 4,000 people leaving the UK”.
The scheme was largely criticised by the other parties with Liberal Democrat Vince Cable describing it as “stupid”, while UKIP said it was “disturbing” and Labour branded the policy a “complete failure”.