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Illegal immigration: No recent figure for UK, report finds

The Home Office has not had an up-to-date estimate of the number of illegal immigrants in 15 years, according to a recent report.

The Home Office has not had an up-to-date estimate of the number of illegal immigrants in 15 years, according to a recent report.

In a report issued on Wednesday, the National Audit Office said that the Home Office officials has not updated its estimate of the number of illegal immigrants for 15 years. Besides, nearly two-thirds of immigration enforcement detainees are released from detention without removal.

The department acknowledges that it had no specific evidence base to support the effectiveness of these measures when they were introduced. It is currently unable to measure whether these activities have the desired effect of encouraging people to leave voluntarily,” the report said.

The last official estimate in 2005 found about 43,000 people living in the country with no legal right to remain. However, independent research since then has put the figure at over a million. Cut to 2023, when last year alone the UK saw 379,000 immigrants moving to live in the UK legally, there seems to be rising concerns that many may have fallen through the net and illegally entered the UK.

Responding to the report, Meg Hillier MP, chair of the public accounts committee, said:

“The Home Office has no idea how many people are in the country illegally and doesn’t seem interested in finding out. It can’t demonstrate that its actions to control illegal immigration are working as intended, and doesn’t understand how different aspects of its work fit together.”

Interestingly, many believe the Home Office’s priority is cracking down on new illegal entries at the UKs borders and coasts rather than pre-existing illegal immigrants. Garth Davies, the head of the NAO, declared:

“The department needs a better understanding of the impact of its immigration enforcement activity on its overarching vision to reduce the size of the illegal population and the harm it causes.”

With the UK offering an attractive package for foreign nationals with work opportunities, our national health care system, and top-scoring schools and universities, it is no surprise that so many wish to relocate to Britain. However, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appears to prioritise ‘stopping the small boats’ arriving in droves at UK coastlines rather than the illegal immigrants currently residing within the UK, seemingly undocumented and under the radar.

The UK is awaiting Mr Sunak’s action following on from his 5-step plan to pull the UK out of post-pandemic issues, illegal immigrants being one of the five in his list.

[Image credit: The Guardian]