Windrush scandal: Home Office offers an "apology”

Windrush credit Youmanity Official Met Police YoutubeA damning report has accused the government of “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race and the history of the Windrush generation”.

Written by Wendy Williams, an inspector of constabulary, the report, published on 19 March, criticised the government after some of those who came to the UK from Commonwealth countries were wrongly told they were in Britain illegally.

The report found that the government did not heed warnings about the hostile environment policy and urged it to provide an “unqualified apology” to those affected during the scandal and the wider African-Caribbean community. While the Home Secretary offered an apology as she released the report, the government has not yet committed to implementing the rest of the report’s 30 detailed recommendations.

Responding on behalf of the Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT), Simeon Mitchell, the United Reformed Church’s (URC) Secretary for Church and Society, said: “This long-awaited review is detailed and damning. It should be a source of national shame that over many years the UK government treated so many British citizens so wrongly on the basis of their race or country of birth.

“As well as documenting many individual injustices which need to be righted, the report uncovers how a toxic combination of immigration policies, Home Office culture, and individual and institutional failings made this scandal almost inevitable.

“It is essential that each of these areas is systematically addressed.”

The 275-page report identified that the cause of the scandal could be traced back to legislation of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, some of which had “racial motivations”.

Changes to immigration law under ‘hostile environment’ measures introduced from 2012 meant that those without documents were asked for evidence to continue working, access local services or even to remain in the UK.

Ann-Marie Abbasah, URC Communications Officer, said: “My mother arrived in Britain from Dominica, a Commonwealth country, by herself in the 1960s as a 12-year-old. She has always had a British passport.

“It fills me with great sadness when I think about those in a similar situation to my mum, but who were deported to countries where they had no family or other connections. They lost their homes, jobs and income, in fact, their whole way of life.

“It leaves me wondering what was learned from the Macpherson Report, written in response to the Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry, which was written more than 20 years ago.”

JPIT has been campaigning against the government’s hostile environment policies since 2018.

Simeon continued: “As we highlighted in a report in 2018, many of the web of ‘hostile environment’ policies which contributed to this situation are still in place and causing deprivation, discrimination and distrust. The review’s recommendation that their impact be scrupulously assessed and limited must be pursued with urgency.”

Read the blog in full here.


Picture: A still of passengers aboard the SS Empire Windrush: Youmanity Official/Metropolitan Police/YouTube
Published: 30 March 2020