Police reporting victims of crime and rape to immigration services
A Freedom of Information (FoI) request by the BBC Victoria Derbyshire program to the UK’s 45 police forces found 27 had referred victims to the Home Office immigration enforcement. Three said they did not, while the rest either had no data, it was unclear, or failed to reply.
In one case reported, a woman had been arrested after being beaten up by her partner. The woman, referred to as ‘Sara,’ claimed she was treated like a slave by her partner, with whom she moved to the UK and who is a British citizen.
“He told me, ‘That’s why I brought you here, so you can cook and clean for me,’” she explained.
“He beat me with a belt and a cable.” Because she fell short of having a legal status, she did not go to the police for fear they might detain her.
Sara finally tried to escape but her attacker chased her down the street. Neighbors saw him beating her up, at which point the police arrived and the man was arrested. Sara was brought to the hospital because of the severity of her injuries, but was then locked up in one of the UK’s most infamous immigration removal centers, Yarl’s Wood.
Her lawyer, Sulaiha Ali of Duncan Lewis Solicitors, said: “It’s shocking to know that victims of crime are being seen and treated as criminals just because of their status.”
A case last November saw a woman reporting to the police after she had been kidnapped and raped over half a year, but she ended up being the one arrested.
The Home Office said it would support vulnerable migrants “regardless of their immigration status.”
“Victims of crime must be treated first and foremost as victims,” a spokesperson said.
Pragna Patel from campaign group Southall Black Sisters, said she fears the practice is “in conflict with the government’s stated aim to protect all women from violence.”
“Since 2014, we’ve seen a steady rise in cases where the police have arrested women or reported women to the Home Office as potential illegals rather than deal with their reports of violence and rape.”
The Home Office defended itself, saying: “When individuals are found to have no basis in the UK, we carefully consider the details of the case before taking an enforcement action.”
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