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The Home Office (HO) is a ministerial department of Her Majesty's Government of the United Kingdom, responsible for immigration, security and law and order. As such it is responsible for policing in England and Wales, fire and rescue services in England, and visas and immigration and the Security Service (MI5). It is also in charge of government policy on security-related issues such as drugs, counter-terrorism and ID cards. It was formerly responsible for Her Majesty's Prison Service and the National Probation Service, but these have been transferred to the Ministry of Justice. The Cabinet minister responsible for the department is the Home Secretary.

Home Office
Welsh: Y Swyddfa Gartref
Home Office.svg
Marsham Street.jpg
2 Marsham Street, the headquarters of the Home Office
Department overview
Formed27 March 1782; 237 years ago (1782-03-27)
JurisdictionUnited Kingdom (but in respect of most policing and justice matters: England and Wales only)
Headquarters2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF
Annual budget£10.8 billion (current) and £500 million (capital) in 2018–19[1]
Minister responsible
Department executive
Websitewww.gov.uk/home-office
A Home Office Immigration Enforcement vehicle in north London.

The Home Office continues to be known, especially in official papers and when referred to in Parliament, as the Home Department.[2]

OrganisationEdit

The Home Office is headed by the Home Secretary, a Cabinet minister supported by the department's senior civil servant, the Permanent Secretary.

As of October 2014, the Home Office comprises the following organisations:[3]

Non-ministerial government departmentsEdit

Inspectorates/accountabilityEdit

DivisionsEdit

Non-departmental public bodiesEdit

OperationsEdit

A number of functions of the National Policing Improvement Agency were transferred to the Home Office in October 2012, ahead of the future abolition of the agency.[4]

These included:

PeopleEdit

MinistersEdit

The Home Office Ministers are as follows:[5]

Minister Rank Portfolio
The Rt Hon. Priti Patel MP Secretary of State Overall responsibility for the work of the department; including security and terrorism; legislative programme; expenditure issues.
The Rt Hon. Brandon Lewis MP Minister of State Implementing the strategic defence and security review; counter-terrorism; investigatory powers; communications data legislation; communications capabilities development; security industry engagement; single infrastructure policing; aviation security; firearms; chemical biological radiological nuclear defence (CBRNE) and science and technology programme management; small and medium enterprises; serious and organised crime strategy; criminal finance and asset recovery; cyber crime and security; National Crime Agency oversight; UK anti-corruption policy; better regulation; animal testing.
Kit Malthouse MP Minister of State Police finance and resourcing; police reform and governance; police representative groups; police pay and pensions; police workforce; Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC); Policing and Crime Bill; police integrity and transparency; emergency services collaboration; crime statistics; national fire policy; Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser; national resilience and fire programmes; localism and reform; workforce pay; pensions and industrial relations; extradition; mutual legal assistance; EU criminal justice; Interpol; foreign criminality.
The Baroness Williams of Trafford Minister of State for Countering Extremism All Home Office business in the House of Lords; countering extremism; hate crime; integration; devolution; data strategy; identity and biometrics; Better Regulation; animals in science.
Victoria Atkins MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding, and Vulnerability Disclosure and Barring Service; drugs; alcohol; countering extremism; hate crime; crime prevention; anti-social behaviour; gangs, youth crime and youth violence; knife crime; wildlife crime; child sexual exploitation and abuse; online child sexual exploitation; mental health; modern slavery; honour-based violence; female genital mutilation (FGM); violence against women and girls; missing people and children; sexual violence; prostitution and lap dancing; domestic violence.
Seema Kennedy MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Immigration and border policy; foreign national offenders; resettlement policy; implementation of the Immigration Act 2016; UK Visas and Immigration; immigration enforcement; Border Force; Her Majesty's Passport Office; Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration; Home Office immigration transparency data; net migration statistics.

PrioritiesEdit

The Department outlined its aims for this Parliament in its Business Plan, which was published in May 2011 and superseded its Structural Reform Plan.[6] The plan said the department will:

1. Empower the public to hold the police to account for their role in cutting crime
  • Introduce directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners and make police actions to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour more transparent
2. Free up the police to fight crime more effectively and efficiently
  • Cut police bureaucracy, end unnecessary central interference and overhaul police powers in order to cut crime, reduce costs and improve police value for money. Simplify national institutional structures and establish a National Crime Agency to strengthen the fight against organised crime (and replace the Serious Organised Crime Agency)
3. Create a more integrated criminal justice system
  • Help the police and other public services work together across the criminal justice system
4. Secure our borders and reduce immigration
  • Deliver an improved migration system that commands public confidence and serves our economic interests. Limit non-EU economic migrants, and introduce new measures to reduce inflow and minimise abuse of all migration routes, for example the student route. Process asylum applications more quickly, and end the detention of children for immigration purposes
5. Protect people's freedoms and civil liberties
  • Reverse state interference to ensure there is not disproportionate intrusion into people‟s lives
6. Protect our citizens from terrorism
  • Keep people safe through the Government's approach to counter-terrorism
7. Build a fairer and more equal society (through the Government Equalities Office)
  • Help create a fair and flexible labour market. Change culture and attitudes. Empower individuals and communities. Improve equality structures, frontline services and support; and help Government Departments and others to consider equality as a matter of course

The Home Office publishes progress against the plan on the 10 Downing Street website.[7]

HistoryEdit

On 27 March 1782, the Home Office was formed by renaming the existing Southern Department, with all existing staff transferring. On the same day, the Northern Department was renamed the Foreign Office.

To match the new names, there was a transferring of responsibilities between the two Departments of State. All domestic responsibilities were moved to the Home Office, and all foreign matters became the concern of the Foreign Office.

Most subsequently created domestic departments (excluding, for instance, those dealing with education) have been formed by splitting responsibilities away from the Home Office.

The initial responsibilities were:

Responsibilities were subsequently changed over the years that followed:[8]

The Home Office retains a variety of functions that have not found a home elsewhere, and sit oddly with the main law-and-order focus of the department, such as regulation of British Summer Time.

Anonymous attackEdit

On 7 April 2012, hacktivist group Anonymous temporarily took down the UK Home Office website. The group took responsibility for the attack, which was part of ongoing Anonymous activity in protest against the deportation of hackers as part of Operation TrialAtHome. One Anonymous source claimed in their tweet it was also launched in retaliation for "draconian surveillance proposals".[10]

Union actionEdit

On 18 July 2012, the Public and Commercial Services Union announced that thousands of Home Office employees would go on strike over jobs, pay and other issues.[11] However, the PCSU called off the strike before it was planned it claimed the department had, subsequent to the threat of actions, announced 1,100 new border jobs.[12]

2019 Stabbing attackEdit

On 15 August 2019, a civil servant for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, based in the Home Office building, was stabbed outside the building, going inside for help. His injuries were not life threatening.[13]

 
The former Home Office building at 50 Queen Anne's Gate, London
 
Lunar House in Croydon, which holds the headquarters of UK Visas and Immigration

LocationEdit

Until 1978, the Home Office had its offices in what is now the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Main Building on King Charles Street, off Whitehall. From 1978 to 2004, the Home Office was located at 50 Queen Anne's Gate, a Brutalist office block in Westminster designed by Sir Basil Spence, close to St. James's Park tube station. Many functions, however, were devolved to offices in other parts of London and the country, notably the headquarters of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate in Croydon.

In 2005, the Home Office moved to a new main office designed by Sir Terry Farrell at 2 Marsham Street, Westminster, on the site of the demolished Marsham Towers building of the Department of the Environment.[14]

For external shots of its fictional Home Office, the TV series Spooks uses an aerial shot of the Government Offices Great George Street instead, serving as stand-in to match the distinctly less modern appearance of the fictitious accommodation interiors the series uses.[15]

ResearchEdit

To meet the UK's 5-year science and technology strategy,[16] the Home Office sponsors research in police sciences, including:

  • Biometrics – including face and voice recognition
  • Cell type analysis – to determine the origin of cells (e.g. hair, skin)
  • Chemistry – new techniques to recover latent fingerprints
  • DNA – identifying offender characteristics from DNA
  • Improved profiling – of illicit drugs to help identify their source
  • Raman Spectroscopy – to provide more sensitive drugs and explosives detectors (e.g. roadside drug detection)
  • Terahertz imaging methods and technologies – e.g. image analysis and new cameras, to detect crime, enhance images and support anti-terrorism

DevolutionEdit

Most front-line law and order policy areas, such as policing and criminal justice, are devolved in Scotland and Northern Ireland but the following reserved and excepted matters are handled by Westminster.

ScotlandEdit

Reserved matters:'[17]

The Scottish Government Justice and Communities Directorates are responsible for devolved justice and home affairs policy.

Northern IrelandEdit

Excepted matters:[18]

The following matters were not transferred at the devolution of policing and justice on 12 April 2010 and remain reserved:[19]

The Home Office's main counterparts in Northern Ireland are:

The Department of Justice is accountable to the Northern Ireland Executive whereas the Northern Ireland Office is a UK Government department.

WalesEdit

Under the Welsh devolution settlement, specific policy areas are transferred to the National Assembly for Wales rather than reserved to Westminster.

CriticismEdit

In March 2019, it was reported that in two unrelated cases the Home Office denied asylum to converted Christians by misrepresenting certain Bible quotes. In one case it quoted selected excerpts from the Bible to imply that Christianity is not more peaceful than Islam, the religion the asylum-seeker converted from.[21] In another incident, an Iranian Christian application for asylum was rejected because her faith was judged as "half-hearted", for she did not believe that Jesus could protect her from the Iranian regime.[22] As outrage grew on social media, the Home Office distanced itself from the decision, though it confirmed the letter was authentic.[23] The Home Secretary admitted that it was "totally unacceptable" for his department to quote the Bible to question an Iranian Christian convert's asylum application, and ordered an urgent investigation into what had happened.[24]

The treatment of Christian asylum seekers chimes with other incidents in the past, like the refusal to grant visas to the Archbishop of Mosul to attend the consecration of the UK's first Syriac Orthodox Cathedral.[25] In a 2017 study, the Christian Barnabas Fund found that only 0.2% of all Syrian refugees accepted by the UK were Christians, although Christians accounted for approximately 10% of Syria's prewar population.[26]

In 2019, the Home Office admitted to multiple breaches of data protection regulations in the handling of its Windrush compensation scheme. The department sent emails to Windrush migrants which revealed the email address of other Windrush migrants to whom the email was sent. The data breach concerned five different emails, each of which was sent to 100 recipients.[27] In April 2019, the Home Office admitted to revealing 240 personal email addresses of EU citizens applying for settled status in the UK. The email addresses of applicants were incorrectly sent to other applicants to the scheme.[28] In response to these incidents, the Home Office pledged to launch an independent review of its data protection compliance.[29]

In 2019, the Court of Appeal issued a judgement which criticized the Home Office's handling of immigration cases. The judges stated that the "general approach [by the home secretary, Sajid Javid] in all earnings discrepancy cases [has been] legally flawed". The judgement relates to the Home Office's interpretation of Section 322(5) of the Immigration Rules.[30]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Budget 2018 (PDF). London: HM Treasury. 2018. pp. 23–24. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  2. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster (9 June 2008). "Hansard – Oral Questions to the Home Department – 9 June 2008". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 19 June 2010.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "Departments, agencies and public bodies - GOV.UK". Gov.uk. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  4. ^ "Where have NPIA products and services moved to?". National Policing Improvement Agency. 2012. Archived from the original on 18 January 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  5. ^ "Our ministers". GOV.UK. Home Office. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  6. ^ "Business Plan". Home Office. Home Office. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  7. ^ "Business Plan:Home Office". Home Office. 10 Downing Street. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  8. ^ "Changes to Home Office responsibilities". Casbah.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 9 July 2011. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  9. ^ Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, Volumes 23-24, Longmans, Green, 1950, page 197
  10. ^ "Anonymous takes down the UK Home Office website". Rt.com. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Home Office staff vote to strike over jobs and pay". BBC News. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Home Office stabbing: Man in his 60s hurt after being attacked in central London". Sky News. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  14. ^ New Home Office building Archived 26 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "History of 1 Horse Guards Road - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  16. ^ "Police Science and Technology Strategy: 2004 – 2009" (PDF). Homeoffice.gov.uk. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 February 2007. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  17. ^ "Scotland Act 1998, Schedule 5, Part I". Opsi.gov.uk. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  18. ^ "Northern Ireland Act 1998, Schedule 2". Opsi.gov.uk. 4 November 1950. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  19. ^ Northern Ireland Assembly Information Office. "''Policing and Justice'' motion, Northern ireland Assembly, 12 April 2010". Niassembly.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 16 December 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  20. ^ "About the NIO". Nio.gov.uk. 12 April 2010. Archived from the original on 17 September 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  21. ^ "Home Office refuses Christian convert asylum by quoting Bible passages that 'prove Christianity is not peaceful'". independent.co.uk. 20 March 2019. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  22. ^ "'Illiterate' Home Office quotes Jesus in asylum rejection letter". 27 March 2019. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  23. ^ "Rejecting Asylum Claim, U.K. Quotes Bible to Say Christianity Is Not 'Peaceful'". nytimes.com. 21 March 2019. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  24. ^ "Home Secretary orders urgent investigation into asylum rejection letter which criticised Bible". 2 April 2019. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  25. ^ "Britain bans heroic bishops: Persecuted Christian leaders from war zones refused entry". 4 December 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  26. ^ "UK government discriminates against Christian refugees from Syria". Barnabas Fund. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  27. ^ "Windrush: Home Office admits data breach in compensation scheme". BBC News. 8 April 2019.
  28. ^ "Brexit: Home Office sorry for EU citizen data breach". BBC News. 11 April 2019.
  29. ^ "Home Office to launch independent review of data protection compliance". Civil Service World. 12 April 2019.
  30. ^ "Court castigates Home Office over misuse of immigration law". The Guardian. 16 April 2019.

External linksEdit