A Watchdog claims that hundreds of people have lost their driving licences or were wrongly refused bank accounts under moves to create a ‘hostile environment for illegal immigrants.
David Bolt, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration recently published a Report showing that more than 250 people who had their driving licences revoked in 2015 had been wrongfully identified as being in the UK illegally, as had 10% of those denied a bank or building society account.
The Chief Inspector’s first assessment of the initial 2014 phase of Theresa May’s “hostile environment measures” to deny public and private services to people with no legal right to be in the UK raises questions about whether Ministers were justified in pressing ahead with phase two, due to come into effect next year.
Driving unlawfully in Britain - a new Offence!
The second phase will create a new offence of driving unlawfully in Britain, and banks and building societies will be empowered to close the accounts of immigrants who are in the country illegally and freeze their assets.
David Bolt said there was insufficient hard evidence to determine whether the measures were achieving what the government intended, such as an increase in those voluntarily returning home. A proper evaluation was needed, not least because of concerns about the potential damage of the measures to individuals and communities.
The “hostile measures” report reveals that 9,732 people had their driving licences revoked in 2015 after Home Office checks on their immigration status – close to the 10,000 a year target set by Ministers. In total, 20,000 people have had their driving licences revoked since the measure was introduced in July 2014.
It is believed that human error and poor quality Home Office data led to 259 people who were not in the country illegally having their driving licences revoked in 2015, and the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency had to reinstate them.
Only 583 of the 9,732 people who had their licences revoked in 2015 subsequently left the country. On top of that, only 475 revoked licences were actually returned to the DVLA in 2014-15.
Frank Rogers Head of the Brown Turner Ross Driving Offence Team commented:
"The revocation of a driving licence is normally associated with a newly qualified driver who will have their licence revoked if they have a total of 6 Penalty Points endorsed on their licence within 2 years of passing their Test. This creates a completely new offence designed to achieve a political objective. That is fine as long as the system is applied fairly & on the basis of accurate data. It is worrying that the available data shows an unacceptable level of revocations that were based on flawed intelligence & that did not achieve the desired objective. It will be interesting to see what compensation is offered, if any, to people who have suffered loss by wrongly having their licence revoked."
If you face procsecution for any driving offence anywhere in England & Wales call Frank for Free initial advice on 0800 195 7517