Employment and Immigration Law Update - Windrush review published

29 April 2020

The Windrush scandal resulted in hundreds, maybe thousands, of people being denied their rights as they were unable to prove their right to be in the UK.  Many lost jobs, were refused access to healthcare and some even removed from the UK, causing great anguish for those involved.

On 19 March 2020, Wendy Williams published her independent review into the scandal.  Unfortunately, due to this coinciding with the spread of coronavirus it has received less publicity than we would normally expect.

The report is critical of both ministers and officials in the Home Office. Ms Williams said that whilst she was unable to make a definitive finding of institutional racism within the department, “I have serious concerns that these failings demonstrate an institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race and the history of the Windrush generation within the department, which are consistent with some elements of the definition of institutional racism.”

The report found that the amount of evidence requested by those seeking to prove their right to be in the UK was “unreasonable” and “clearly excessive”. The complexity of legislation was also criticised as it was found that even experts within government departments “struggled to understand the implications of successive changes in the legislation”.

The report is in four parts. The first sets out what happened and to whom, including numerous case studies.

The second part outlines a “complex interplay of historical, social, political, and organisational factors that contributed to the scandal”. Ms Williams found the Windrush generation’s history “was institutionally forgotten” and not considered when policies affecting them were introduced.
The third part considers actions taken by the Home Office to make amends for what happened. The report find that these steps do address some of the issues but “do not sufficiently address the fundamental problems that exist”.

Finally the fourth part sets out 30 recommendations, aimed at changing Home Office culture. These can be summarised under three main focuses.  Firstly, that the Home Office must acknowledge the wrong it has done. Secondly, that the Home Office must open itself up to greater external scrutiny and, finally, the Home Office must change its culture to recognise that migration and wider Home Office policy is about people and should be rooted in humanity.

Following an initial statement in the House of Commons, the Home Secretary is expected to provide a detailed formal response in the next six months.

This article is from the April 2020 issue of Employment and Immigration Law Update, our monthly newsletter for HR professionals. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. For further information please contact Clare Hedges or another member of Birketts' Immigration Team.

The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at April 2020.