Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Labour 'to boost UK citizen checks'

Labour has pledged to increase scrutiny of people seeking British citizenship after a watchdog found lax checks had allowed v iolent killers to be accepted.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said applicants should be required to produce the equivalent of a Criminal Records Bureau check from their own country - or have their histories probed.

A report from John Vine, independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, said "no attempts" were made to check overseas criminal records and there were "virtually no other checks" to establish the good character of applicants apart from automated police and immigration tests.

Ms Cooper said the extra checks would be made easier by the 1,000 additional staff it has pledged to fund via a levy on visitors from the US and other countries benefiting from visa-free entry to the UK.

"Theresa May tried to bury this report, but she can't hide the systemic weaknesses and poor enforcement of this Government," she said.

"After Bordersgate, the passport shambles, the failure to deport foreign criminals, the asylum backlog and ignoring bogus students, this latest failure shows the need for urgent changes.

"Simply abolishing the Borders Agency and bringing it into the Home Office hasn't changed anything. Ministers are simply overseeing poor performance in closer proximity.

"Labour will have more borders staff to increase enforcement both at the border and in the UK to make sure the rules are upheld and people can have confidence in the system."

A Home Office spokesman said: "The immigration system this Government inherited was in total disarray, with visa routes open to widespread abuse, porous borders and a failing organisation administering it.

"We have reformed family, work and student visas to slash fraud and shut down 800 bogus colleges that were selling visas instead of education.

"And we scrapped UKBA, replacing it with a specialist border force, a visas unit and an enforcement arm to give all three crucial areas more focus and bring them under direct ministerial oversight.

"There is more to do, but our reforms are building an immigration system that is fair to British citizens and legitimate migrants and tough on those who flout the rules."

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph