In Brief

Windrush report: Home Office showed hallmarks of ‘institutional racism’

Long-awaited report prompts official apology from Home Secretary Priti Patel

The Home Office showed “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race” during the Windrush scandal, an independent inquiry has found.

The long-awaited report said the government department operated a “culture of disbelief and carelessness” and found that some ministers still “do not accept the full extent of the injustice”.

The report, described as “scathing” by The Guardian, said the Home Office’s failings were “consistent with some elements of the definition of institutional racism”.

Responding to the report, Home Secretary Priti Patel offered an official apology in the House of Commons yesterday, saying: “There is nothing I can say today that will undo the suffering... On behalf of this and successive governments I am truly sorry.”

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The Windrush Lessons Learned Review was commissioned after people with a right to live in the UK were wrongfully detained or deported to the Caribbean over a period of around six years, from 2013 to 2018.

The report’s author Wendy Williams, an inspector of constabulary, called on the government to provide an “unqualified apology” to those affected and the wider African-Caribbean community.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott told Patel: “People will believe her apology when they see her genuinely seek to implement the recommendations in the review.”

Abbott, whose mother was a member of the Windrush generation, said for those affected it was not about “the money, the inconvenience or the tragedy of being deported”, but the “insult to people who always believed they were British”.

The BBC’s community affairs correspondent, Adina Campbell, describes the review is a “damning indictment of Home Office immigration policy which goes as far back as the 1960s, with race being a significant factor”.

The Windrush scandal saw Commonwealth nationals living in the UK wrongly threatened with deportation and denied of medical care because they lacked the correct documentation.

The group comprises British citizens who came to the UK from the Commonwealth as children following the Second World War, and whose rights were guaranteed in the Immigration Act of 1971.

They were named the Windrush generation after the British ship the Empire Windrush - which arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex carrying 492 Caribbean passengers in 1948.

A large number arrived as children, and “many [making] the UK their home for their entire lives”, says Channel 4.

However, under changes to the immigration law in 2012, they were forced to prove continuous residence in the UK since 1973, which proved almost impossible for those who had not kept up detailed records.

Recommendations in the report include setting up a full review and evaluation of the hostile environment policy, and that the Home Office should launch an overarching strategic race advisory board.

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