All 44 police forces across England and Wales, including British Transport Police, have shared information about victims of domestic abuse with immigration enforcement in the past three years, says domestic abuse commissioner Nicole Jacobs.
“At the point when victims have come to the police for safety from abuse, they are met with what many fear most: contact with immigration enforcement. Migrant victims have told me that this plays into the perpetrator’s tactics of control,” said Jacobs, adding the practice allows abusers to evade justice.
She is calling on the government to establish a firewall to prevent the police and other public services, such as health and social care, from sharing victims’ data with the Home Office. She suggests the change should be introduced as an amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill.
Of the 537 immigration status check referrals made by police, no enforcement action was taken in the three years to March 2023. “That shows this practice is serving no one, but the fear it instils creates a high cost to the safety of victims and the public,” said Jacobs.
National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) guidance to forces is they may share basic information, including an address, with immigration enforcement if they suspect someone may not be legally residing in the UK. But officers do not routinely investigate victims’ migration status, the Guardian newspaper reported the NPCC as saying.