The Home Office has signed up to a legally-binding action plan to address its failures to comply with the law in the Windrush scandal.
The move follows a ruling last November by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) that it broke equality law when setting its “hostile environment” policy.
The policy, introduced by Theresa May in 2012 when she was home secretary, was intended to deter illegal immigrants from remaining in the UK.
However it led to hundreds of members of the “Windrush generation” – who legally came to Britain from the Caribbean in the decades following the Second World War – being wrongfully detained and denied their rights.
In agreeing the two-year improvement plan with the EHRC, Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was determined to address past injustices.
In a joint statement with Home Office Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft, she said: “The Windrush generation were repeatedly failed by successive governments and we have been resolute in our determination to right the wrongs that they suffered.
“The experiences of the Windrush generation must never be repeated, and must never be forgotten.” Kishwer Falkner, @EHRCChair— EHRC (@EHRC) April 1, 2021
Read about the legal agreement we have signed with the @UKHomeOffice to improve practices following Windrush ➡️ https://t.co/FfCXtEx9yR pic.twitter.com/jGG0uo0rJc
“We will continue to work closely with the EHRC on delivering the action plan to ensure mistakes like this never happen again.”
Welcoming the agreement, EHRC chair Baroness Falkner of Margravine said: “The experiences of the Windrush generation must never be repeated and must never be forgotten.
“They serve as a stark reminder of the importance of adhering to equality laws, so that no-one has to suffer such unjust treatment.
“Other government departments can learn from this lesson, and make sure they are taking all of the appropriate steps to meet their legal obligations and deliver public policy and services that work for everyone.”
As part of the action plan, the EHRC said that the Home Office had agreed to establish a community stakeholder and engagement hub and to take steps to improve the advice given to ministers about equality.
The commission said that if the Home Office failed to implement the plan it could take further enforcement action, including applying for a court order requiring it to comply.