Immigration (Electronic Monitoring)

Home Department written statement – made on 13th March 2006.

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Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality), Home Office

On 8 November 2005 I informed the House of our decision to reverse the policy requiring the Immigration Service to seek the consent of individuals before imposing an electronic monitoring regime as part of contact management plans. I also said I would provide a further update to the House on developments in the use of electronic monitoring in an immigration context.

Electronic monitoring takes three forms: telephone reporting using voice recognition technology, tagging and satellite tracking. A pilot during October 2004 to February 2005 focused on the practicalities of applying electronic monitoring in an immigration context. Since then, the Immigration Service has been working on how best to use electronic monitoring as part of our developing contact management strategy. Contact management, including electronic monitoring is a key aspect of the "New Asylum Model" as described in the five-year plan.

We have focused the use of telephone reporting on managing our contact with lower risk cases in conjunction with physical reporting at reporting centres. We are thereby able to:

manage better the throughput at our reporting centres in line with the intelligent reporting strategy; avoid unnecessary travel by those required to report; maintain contact with those who live beyond a reporting centre catchment area; maintain contact with those who find it difficult to travel to a reporting centre, for example, those who are ill or pregnant women immediately before and after the birth of their child; and monitor compliance with the residence restrictions we place on people.

The use of tagging is being focused on higher risk cases. Among the key applications for tagging are cases where we have not detained, but where we wish to maintain a high level of contact and control because the circumstances of the case suggest that the individual may not comply, for example to avoid removal. The categories which meet those criteria include:

asylum seekers who have previously claimed in a third country; cases where appeal rights are exhausted or where the right of appeal is non-suspensive; those who make late and opportunistic claims to asylum; and those who are not documented or who express a reluctance to comply with the documentation process.

We will shortly be extending the use of tagging to those who cannot continue to be detained at Oakington and Colnbrook Reception Centres and Harmondsworth Removals Centre but who are shortly to be removed. We also intend to begin tagging people at reporting centres at the point of service of their dismissed appeal determination pending removal.

We have made less use of satellite tracking. This is partly because of the geographical limits on the availability of the technology to Greater Manchester, Hampshire and the West Midlands as part of a wider pilot sponsored by the National Offender Management Service which was only running in these areas. We will do further work to establish clearly whether this more intrusive method of contact management will deliver business benefits and provide value for money.

During the original pilot, in line with the requirement for consent, monitoring periods were generally set in a way which did not impact on an individual's movements, for example, monitoring periods of two hours early in the day, twice a week. By imposing more frequent monitoring periods and at different times of the day, we intend to demonstrate to those who are not detained that we intend to exercise a high level of control pending their removal.

In December 2005 the Immigration Service carried out an exercise at the Asylum Screening Units (ASUs) in Liverpool and Croydon to tag adult asylum applicants at the point of claim. By making clear the intention to tag the applicant our aim was to discourage unfounded applications for asylum. Eleven applicants—all of whom were liable to detention—were tagged during the week-long exercise, and the ASU have continued to refer claimants for tagging who are not detained. A total of 60 claimants at the ASUs had been tagged by the end of February 2006. For the purpose of the exercise we sought to tag only those claimants with settled addresses in view of the cost and logistical difficulties of inducting and re-inducting those moving between different properties run by emergency accommodation providers. However, as our aim is to send a clear message to unfounded claimants, we are working towards tagging all adult claimants at our ASUs who are not detained, including those who seek asylum support.

Tagging is not suitable in all cases where the substantive claim to asylum has yet to be considered. Cases where we would not seek to tag at the point of claim include certificated medical foundations cases and those who have been the victims of trafficking. Those cases may still be suitable for electronic monitoring, however, through telephone reporting to allow us to monitor compliance with residence requirements.

By February 2006, some 353 people had been inducted onto telephone reporting, which requires them to telephone the monitoring centre once a week, in lieu of reporting to an Immigration Reporting Centre. The number currently reporting, (net of those who are no longer subject to telephone reporting) is 260. We have inducted 192 people onto a tagging regime, of whom 154 are currently tagged. Of those no longer subject to electronic monitoring, 21 have been removed. Two left voluntarily. Five people were made subject to tracking orders, and two are currently being tracked.

The evaluation of the original trial on EM found that the overall compliance rate in terms of tagging and tracking was 68 per cent. The compliance rate for both tagging and telephone reporting is currently around 90 per cent.

Electronic monitoring provides the Immigration Service with a real alternative to detention while allowing them to manage the risk of non-compliance with reporting and residence restrictions according to the specific circumstances of a case. The Immigration Service will plan to apply electronic monitoring to higher numbers of cases next year as they continue to develop the initiative. I will update the House from time to time when those developments are significant.


Svenja Meyerricks
Posted on 28 Mar 2006 11:35 am (Report this annotation)

It seems to be forgotten that the talk is about people - in many cases, desperate people who had to flee their economically devastated and/or unsafe countries of origin to stay in Britain, leaving everyone behind. The whole idea of tagging and electronic surveillance seems to me as if they are regarded as some kind of animals. To make a constructive contribution, I suggest that Mr McNulty MP went in person to those communities where refugees and asylum seekers live and talked to them, heared their often truly tragic stories, looked them and their often Scottish-born children in the eyes... Would he then still suggest to tag those who are to be deported?! Would he detain and deport them in the first place?!! They are people, not numbers!!!

Immigrants can positively contribute to British economy - they do not have to be regarded as a type of 'leech'. Their problem is that British administrative officials do not allow them to work! I live in a communitity with large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers so I know what I'm talking about.

Please, provide support instead of extreme and cruel control measures - these people have gone through enough difficulties!


Svenja Meyerricks