Clause 19 - Powers in connection with examination, detention and removal

Part of Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:15 pm on 3rd November 2015.

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Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General 2:15 pm, 3rd November 2015

Importantly, we have to remember that we are dealing with powers that relate to a potential civil consequence as opposed to a criminal one. Therefore, it is important to draw a distinction between the stop-and-search powers and this particular competence. There will be joint crime reduction operations—commonly known as CROPs, another unfortunate acronym, for which I apologise—where, for example, somebody is stopped on the underground for fare evasion and is then referred to immigration officers. That is intelligence-led enforcement. It is not about the sort of random checks that the hon. Member for Sheffield Central illustrated very eloquently and with proper concern—a concern that I share. I do not want that sort of culture to be spread through the use of these powers. As a result of duties under the Equality Act and due to of the importance of community impact assessments made before operations, which have to be signed off by a senior official in the rank of assistant director, some of the practical safeguards are in place to deal with the sort of mischief and problems that he and other hon. Members have identified.

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North for raising the Singh v. Hammond case. It is important to note that that judgment of 1987—it is now nearly 30 years old—says:

“An examination…can properly be conducted by an immigration officer away from the place of entry and on a later date after the person has already entered…if the immigration officer has some information in his possession which causes him to enquire whether the person being examined is a British citizen and, if not…whether he should be given leave and on what conditions.”

There we have it—the basis of action.