Update regarding Liberty & Southall Black Sisters Safe to Share super-complaint
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A letter from Chief Constable BJ Harrington to Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) dated 10 December 2021.
Follow up to recommendations in HMICFRS’ report ‘Safe to Share’
Following HMICFRS’ investigation into the super-complaint generated by Liberty and Southall Black Sisters regarding the treatment of victims with insecure immigration status, several recommendations were issued to the Home Office, NPCC and Chief Constables in response to the findings. Whilst no evidence was found to denote a culture of prioritising immigration enforcement within policing, it did identify inconsistencies in approach and content of information sharing.
Your letter of 24 November 2021 requested an update on the recommendations applicable to Chief Constables (Recommendations 1,4 and 5). You will be aware of the NPCC’s response to HMICFRS in May 2021 with which I agree. The NPCC set out their argument for neither agreeing the rationale nor assessment of the evidence underpinning these recommendations.
Since the NPCC’s initial response, I am aware that the NPCC has worked closely with the Home Office and relevant NGOs in a series of workshops exploring the implications of an information data sharing firewall and examining all possible solutions with the goal of increasing the confidence to report for all victims with an insecure immigration status. Those workshops have now concluded with the Home Office due to publish its review before Christmas. Further work will take place between the NPCC and the Home Office to update the current safeguarding and information sharing protocol with Immigration Enforcement.
While I intend to await the outcome of the Home Office review and the subsequent update to the safeguarding and information sharing protocol this in no way suggests that Essex Police does not take these matters seriously. Victims and vulnerability are at the very heart of our Force Plan and efforts to keep the people of Essex safe.
The tragic deaths of 39 Vietnamese victims who were trafficked into the county through an Essex port in October 2019 has shaped our response to organised immigration crime and how we respond in the community. Dignity and respect are at the heart of all our decision making and enquiries relating to foreign national victims and witnesses with no leave, or suspected no leave, to remain in the UK regardless of their nationality.
Essex Police continue to work in partnership with Immigration Enforcement to ensure that any victim of crime can feel comfortable disclosing offences and that they are afforded the same support as every victim, whilst respecting the legislation that underpins any necessary action by Immigration Enforcement.