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Windrush: UK Home Secretary apologises to 18 members wrongfully removed or detained

The 18 people were identified during a detailed review of 11,800 cases affecting Carribean nationals.

UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid
UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid
Image: Joe Giddens via PA Images

THE UK HOME Secretary is to apologise to 18 members of the Windrush generation who it is believed could have been wrongfully removed or detained.

The 18 people were identified during a detailed review of 11,800 cases of removals, detentions and compliant environment measures affecting Carribean nationals.

The review identified evidence which suggests that the 18 people came to the UK from the Caribbean before 1973 and stayed there permanently, but were unable to prove their continuous residence in the country.

Of the 18, a total of 11 voluntarily left the UK, while the remaining seven were detained but subsequently released.

The Home Office has so far been in contact with 14 of the 18 people and said it will continue its efforts to reach out to the remaining four people to put them in contact with the taskforce.

The Home Office said they will be directed to a compensation scheme once it has been established.

“The experiences faced by some members of the Windrush generation are completely unacceptable and I am committed to righting the wrongs of the past,” Home Secretary Sajid Javid said.

I would like to personally apologise to those identified in our review and am committed to providing them with the support and compensation they deserve.

“We must to everything we can to ensure that nothing like this happens again – which is why I have asked an independent adviser to look at what lessons we can learn from Windrush.”

Windrush generation immigration controversy Jamaican immigrants arriving in the UK in 1948. Source: PA Images

What is the Windrush generation? 

In April, May’s government was forced into a climbdown and apology over threats to deport Caribbean-born citizens who were granted the right to live and work in Britain after the Second World War.

The so-called Windrush generation began arriving in the UK from Commonwealth countries in 1948 to help rebuild the country after the Second World War, and were given indefinite leave to remain. Having lost hundreds of thousands of people, particularly working-aged men, during the war, the country needed labour and the Commonwealth provided the answer.

Because many were born in countries that were still colonies, they were legally British and granted leave to stay indefinitely.

While most lived without incident for decades, recent focus on immigration by Rudd’s department changed that. In recent years, since a 2012 law change, a government clampdown on illegal immigration has begun to identify those without papers – scooping up many elderly people from the Windrush generation.

Numerous cases have been highlighted where those who lack the proper documents were told they need evidence to continue working, get NHS treatment or even remain in the UK.

Windrush generation immigration controversy The Empire Windrush ship in 1954 Source: PA Wire/PA Images

On 29 April, Javid’s predecessor Amber Rudd resigned as Home Secretary amid the scandal over the treatment of those in the Windrush generation.

It had emerged in the previous 24 hours that she may have misled a committee of MPs over whether her department had targets for removing a certain amount of illegal immigrants from the country over a given period of time.

At a meeting on 17 April, May told representatives of the 12 Caribbean members of the Commonwealth that she took the treatment of the Windrush generation “very seriously”.

“I want to apologise to you today. Because we are genuinely sorry for any anxiety that has been caused,” she said.

“I want to dispel any impression that my government is in some sense clamping down on Commonwealth citizens, particularly those from the Caribbean.”

Citizenship

In a letter to the Home Affairs Committee, Javid has also provided an update on the number of people who have been supported by the newly established taskforce.

A total of 2,272 people have been helped to get the documentation they need to prove their existing right to be in the UK under the initial arrangements put in place prior to the establishment of the Windrush scheme.

It also confirms 1,465 people have been granted citizenship or documentation to prove their status under the formal Windrush scheme.

With reporting by Paul Hosford. 

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