Home Office back down on 'Go Home' vans
Following a legal challenge brought forward by solicitors, Deighton Pierce Glynn, on behalf of two clients of the Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London the Westminister Government has 'confirmed that if any further campaigns of a similar nature are planned, they would carry out a consultation with local authorities and community groups.'
The legal challenge against the 'Go Home' vans pilot was brought on the basis that the initiative failed to comply with the public sector equality duty of the Equality Act which requires public bodies to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and harassment and to foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
The Government has 'provided an assurance that if the Home Office were to carry out any further campaigns of this nature it would have due to regard to the effect this would have on migrants living in those communities and in so doing would carry out a consultation.' Numerous local authorities, MPs and community groups of the areas where the van was deployed have expressed anger at not having been consulted on the initiative.
Commenting on the Home Office statement the Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London (RAMFEL) said it was delighted that the Government has finally recognised that it should have consulted and engaged directly with individuals and organisations representing the needs and concerns of immigrants in the UK about the ‘Go Home’ campaign and the use of vans saying ‘Go Home or Face Arrest’ on the streets of London.
"The Government’s failure to do so and the subsequent ‘immigration spot checks’ have caused much distress and upset to a cross section of communities locally and nationally. The fact that the campaign has also been commented on extensively in the international media, also suggests that this has tarnished the UK’s long standing reputation as a tolerant and welcoming society.
We welcome the Government’s commitment to engaging more broadly and taking on board the views of those directly affected by their policies. We will be making sure that they are true to their word by scrutinising and advocating for ‘fairness’ across a cross section of government proposals and policies as they impact on migrant communities."
Rita Chadha, CEO of RAMFEL, the organisation supporting two service user migrants to bring the case, said:
"Informed and effective policy is always made when Governments listen to the reactions of communities. Whilst immigration will no doubt remain a hotly contested issue until the next election, we are glad that the Government has finally recognised that fair policy making requires the views of all sections of the community to be heard, including those that it directly impacts upon. We remain vigilant to the possibility of other attacks and policies that increasingly view immigration only as a negative, encourage miscommunication between local communities, and seek to create divisions within British society. Our message to government is ‘we’re watching you’’