The Home Office (HO), also known (especially in official papers and when referred to in Parliament) as the Home Department, is a ministerial department of the British Government, 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, 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 His Majesty's Prison Service and the National Probation Service, but these have been transferred to the Ministry of Justice.
2 Marsham Street, Westminster
|Formed||27 March 1782|
|Jurisdiction||Government of the United Kingdom|
|Headquarters||2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF|
|Annual budget||£10.8 billion (current) and £500 million (capital) in 2018–19|
|Secretary of State responsible|
|Ministers of State (attending Cabinet) responsible|
The Cabinet minister responsible for the department is the Home Secretary, a post considered one of the Great Offices of State; it has been held by James Cleverly since November 2023. The Home Office is managed from day to day by a civil servant, the Permanent Under-Secretary of State of the Home Office.
As of October 2014, the Home Office comprises the following organisations:
Non-ministerial government departments edit
Inspectorates / accountability edit
- HM Inspectorate of Constabulary
- Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration
- Independent Office for Police Conduct and other oversight bodies
- HM Chief Inspector of Fire Services
- Border Force
- HM Passport Office
- Immigration Enforcement
- Corporate Services
- UK Visas and Immigration
- Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism
Non-departmental public bodies edit
- Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs
- Animals in Science Committee
- Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)
- Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority
- Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), formerly the Independent Police Complaints Commission
- Investigatory Powers Tribunal
- Migration Advisory Committee
- National DNA Database Ethics Group
- Office of Surveillance Commissioners
- Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner
- Police Advisory Board for England and Wales
- Police Discipline Appeals Tribunal
- Police Remuneration Review Body
- Security Industry Authority (SIA)
- Surveillance Camera Commissioner
- Technical Advisory Board
- Use of the Airwave communications system by police forces
- The Police National Database
- The National DNA Database
- Legislative powers regarding police employment
- Forensics policy
- The National Procurement Hub for information technology
(in millions £)
|Capital Funding |
(in millions £)
|Science, Technology, Analysis, Research, and Strategy||214.2||84.6|
|Migration and Borders||216.7||157.9|
|Immigration and Passports||541.9||43.3|
|Borders and Enforcement||702.1||154.2|
|Arm's Length Bodies||134.7||15.2|
The Home Office outsources to a number of contractors to handle specific duties relating to its mission.
|G4S||Administering Detention centres and Removals|
|Sopra Steria||Residence documents processing services|
|TLScontact||Visa processing services|
Home Office ministers edit
The Home Office ministers are as follows:
|The Rt Hon. James Cleverly MP||Secretary of State for the Home Department||Overall responsibility for the work of the department; overarching responsibility for the departmental portfolio and oversight of the ministerial team; cabinet; National Security Council (NSC); public appointments; oversight of the Security Service; overall responsibility for the Home Office response to COVID-19 including health measures at the border and police powers to enforce lockdown.|
|The Rt Hon. Tom Tugendhat MBE MP||Minister of State for Security||Counter terrorism – Prepare, Prevent, Pursue, Protect; response to state threats; cyber security and crime; serious and organised crime; oversight of NCA; aviation and maritime security; economic security; economic crime (including anti-corruption and illicit finance); international criminality; fraud; countering extremism; extradition policy and operations; Special Cases Unit (exclusions, deprivations etc.); MP security and VIP protection; online safety; victims of terrorism.|
|The Rt Hon. Robert Jenrick MP||Minister of State for Immigration||Legal migration: Net migration; UK points-based system; simplifying the immigration system and immigration rules; current and future visa policy; nationality; Windrush; FBIS and Border Strategy 2025; Border Force operations; Home Office interests in free trade agreements; Safe and legal routes and resettlement, including: Ukraine Family Scheme, Homes for Ukraine Scheme, Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme, Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy, Hong Kong BN(O). Illegal migration and asylum: illegal migration strategy and New Plan for Immigration oversight; Nationality and Borders Act part 2; small boats policy (ops with MoD); asylum decision making and accommodationl; returns and removals, including third country agreements; detention estate; foreign national offenders; Immigration Enforcement; compliant environment; organised immigration crime (OIC); MEDP and future TCAP deals; modern slavery.|
|The Rt Hon. Chris Philp MP||Minister of State for Crime, Policing and Fire||Policing; police accountability and efficiency; local policing response to organised crime; public order, major events and Public Order Bill; cutting crime; criminal justice system; drugs and county lines; unauthorised encampments; firearms; alcohol and licensing; anti-social behaviour; neighbourhood crime; policing elements of RASSO (and any wider policing elements of the safeguarding portfolio); civil contingencies; ESMCP; Police, Crime, Sentencing and the Courts Act; fire policy; Home Office elements of fire operations; Grenfell.|
|Laura Farris MP||Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Victims and Safeguarding||Tackling violence against women and girls; domestic abuse; FGM and forced marriage; child sexual abuse and exploitation; Disclosure and Barring Service; Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority; sexual violence; Rape Review; prostitution; stalking; hate crime; crime prevention; early youth intervention; victim support; victims elements of RASSO; spiking.|
Held jointly with the Ministry of Justice
|The Rt Hon. The Lord Sharpe of Epsom OBE||Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department||Home Office responsibilities: public safety and national security 'shadow' in the Lords; public safety and national security legislation. Cross-cutting: departmental reform and Transformation Programme; commercial; digital and technology; data and identity; analysis, science and research; programme portfolio; public appointments and sponsorship; inquiries; Better Regulation.|
The Department outlined its aims for this Parliament in its Business Plan, which was published in May 2011, and superseded its Structural Reform Plan. 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.
- 1. Empower the public to hold the police to account for their role in cutting crime
To match the new names, there was a transferring of responsibilities between the two Departments of State. All domestic responsibilities (including colonies) 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:
- Answering petitions and addresses sent to the King
- Advising the King on
- Issuing instructions on behalf of the King to officers of The Crown, lords-lieutenant and magistrates, mainly concerning law and order
- Operation of the secret service within the UK
- Protecting the public
- Safeguarding the rights and liberties of individuals
- Colonial matters
Responsibilities were subsequently changed over the years that followed:
- 1793 added: regulation of aliens
- 1794 removed: control of military forces (to Secretary of State for War)
- 1801 removed: colonial business (to Secretary of State for War and the Colonies)
- 1804 removed: Barbary State consuls (to Secretary of State for War and the Colonies)
- 1823 added: prisons
- 1829 added: Metropolitan Police and other police services
- 1836 added: registration of births, deaths and marriages in England and Wales
- 1844 added: naturalisation
- 1845 added: registration of Friendly Societies
- 1855 removed: yeomanries and militias (to War Office)
- 1858 added: local boards of health
- 1871 removed: local boards of health (to Local Government Board)
- 1871 removed: registration of births, deaths and marriages (to Local Government Board)
- 1872 removed: highways and turnpikes (to Local Government Board)
- 1875 added: control of explosives
- 1875 removed: registration of Friendly Societies (to Treasury)
- 1885 removed: Scotland (to Secretary for Scotland and the Scottish Office)
- 1886 removed: fishing (to Board of Trade)
- 1889 removed: Land Commissioners (to Board of Agriculture)
- 1900 removed: matters relating to burial grounds (to Local Government Board)
- 1905 removed: public housing (to Local Government Board)
- 1914 added: dangerous drugs
- 1919 removed: aircraft and air traffic (to Air Ministry)
- 1919 removed: use of human bodies in medical training (to Ministry of Health)
- 1919 removed: infant and child care (to Ministry of Health)
- 1919 removed: lunacy and mental health (to Ministry of Health)
- 1919 removed: health and safety (to Ministry of Health)
- 1920 added: firearms
- 1920 removed: Representation of Britain abroad in labour matters (to Ministry of Labour)
- 1920 removed: mining (to Mines Department)
- 1920 added: Northern Ireland
- 1921 added: elections (from the Ministry of Health)
- 1922 removed: relations with Irish Free State (to Colonial Office)
- 1923 removed: Order of the British Empire (to Treasury)
- 1925 removed: registration of trade unions (to Ministry of Labour)
- 1931 removed: county councils (to Ministry of Health)
- 1933 added: poisons
- 1934 removed: metropolitan boroughs (to Ministry of Health)
- 1935 added: Civil Defence Service
- 1937 removed: road accident returns (to Ministry of Transport)
- 1938 added: fire services
- 1938 removed: Imperial Service Order and medal (to Treasury)
- 1940 removed: factory inspections (to Ministry of Labour)
- 1945 removed: workmen's compensation scheme (to Ministry of National Insurance)
- 1947 added: infant and child care (from Ministry of Health)
- 1947 removed: regulation of advertisements (to Ministry of Town and Country Planning)
- 1947 removed: burial fees (to Ministry of Health)
- 1947 removed: registration of building societies (to Treasury)
- 1948 removed: Broadmoor hospital (to Lunacy Board of Control)
- 1949 added: Civil Defence Corps
- 1950 removed: structural precautions for civil defence (to Ministry of Works)
- 1950 removed: minor judicial appointments (to Lord Chancellor)
- 1953 removed: slaughterhouses (to Ministry of Housing and Local Government)
- 1954 removed: markets (to Ministry of Housing and Local Government)
- 1956 removed: railway accidents (to Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation)
- 1969 removed: reservoirs (to Ministry of Housing and Local Government)
- 1971 removed: child care in England (to Department of Health and Social Security)
- 1971 removed: child care in Wales (to Welsh Office)
- 1972 removed: Northern Ireland Department of the Home Office (to Northern Ireland Office)
- 1973 removed: adoption (to Department of Health and Social Security)
- 1992 removed: broadcasting and sport (to the new Department of National Heritage – later the Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
- 2000 removed: Metropolitan Police (to Metropolitan Police Authority - later Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime)
- 2001 removed: elections (to the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions)
- 2001 removed: Crown Dependencies (to Lord Chancellor's Department – now Ministry of Justice)
- 2007 removed: Home Office Drugs Inspectorate branch, formed in 1934
- 2007 removed: criminal justice, prisons & probation and legal affairs (to new Ministry of Justice)
- 2007 added: counter-terrorism strategy (from the Cabinet Office)
- 2016 added: fire and rescue services in England (from the Department for Communities and Local Government)
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.
Recent incidents edit
Union action edit
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. The union called off the strike; it claimed the department had, consequent to the threat of actions, announced 1,100 new border jobs.
Windrush scandal edit
The first allegations about the targeting of pre-1973 Caribbean migrants started in 2013. In 2018, the allegations were put to the Home Secretary in the House of Commons, and resulted in the resignation of the then Home Secretary. The Windrush scandal resulted in some British citizens being wrongly deported, along with a further compensation scheme for those affected, and a wider debate on the Home Office hostile environment policy.
Aderonke Apata edit
Aderonke Apata, a Nigerian LGBT activist, made two asylum claims that were both rejected by the Home Office in 2014 and on 1 April 2015 respectively, due to her previously having been in a relationship with a man and having children with that man. In 2014, Apata said that she would send an explicit video of herself to the Home Office to prove her sexuality. This resulted in her asylum bid gaining widespread support, with multiple petitions created in response, which gained hundreds of thousands of signatures combined.
On 8 August 2017, after a thirteen-year legal battle and after a new appeal from Apata was scheduled for late July, she was granted refugee status in the United Kingdom by the Home Office.
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 then 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.
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.
- 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
Most front-line law and order policy areas, such as policing and criminal justice, are devolved in Scotland and Northern Ireland (and only very partially in Wales), but the following reserved and excepted matters are handled by Westminster.
Northern Ireland edit
The following matters were not transferred at the devolution of policing and justice on 12 April 2010, and remain reserved:
The Home Office's main counterparts in Northern Ireland are:
- Department of Justice (policing, public order and community safety)
- Northern Ireland Office (national security in Northern Ireland)
- The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
- Extradition legislation, but the Scottish Ministers (through the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service) have executive responsibility for all aspects of mutual legal assistance
- Most aspects of firearms legislation, but Scottish Ministers have some executive responsibilities for the licensing of firearms; further powers are transferred under the Scotland Act 2012
- Immigration and nationality
- Scientific procedures on live animals.
The Scottish Government Justice and Communities Directorates are responsible for devolved justice and home affairs policy.
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 asylum-seeker's original religion. 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. As criticism grew on social media, the Home Office distanced itself from the decision, though it confirmed the letter was authentic. The Home Secretary[who?] said 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.
The treatment of Christian asylum-seekers chimes with other incidents in the past, such as the refusal to grant visas to the Archbishop of Mosul to attend the consecration of the UK's first Syriac Orthodox Cathedral.[better source needed] 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 pre-war population.
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. 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. In response to these incidents, the Home Office pledged to launch an independent review of its data protection compliance.
In 2019, the Court of Appeal issued a judgement which criticised 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.
In November 2020, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, a statutory body that investigates breaches of the Equality Act 2010 published a report concluding that the Home Office had a "lack of organisation-wide commitment, including by senior leadership, to the importance of equality and the Home Office's obligations under the equality duty placed on government departments". The report noted that the Home Office's pursuit of the "hostile environment" policy from 2012 onwards "accelerated the impact of decades of complex policy and practice based on a history of white and black immigrants being treated differently". Caroline Waters, the interim chair of the EHRC, described the treatment of Windrush immigrants by the Home Office as a "shameful stain on British history".
See also edit
- Budget 2018 (PDF). London: HM Treasury. 2018. pp. 23–24. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
- 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. Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
- "Secretary of State for the Home Department - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 3 January 2023.
- "Role - Home Affairs Committee". parliament.uk. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
The House of Commons appoints the Committee with the task of examining the expenditure, administration, and policy of the Home Office and its associated public bodies.
- "Departments, agencies and public bodies - GOV.UK". GOV.uk. Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
- "Where have NPIA products and services moved to?". www.NPIA.police.uk. National Policing Improvement Agency. 2012. Archived from the original on 18 January 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
- This article incorporates text published under the British Open Government Licence: "Our ministers". GOV.UK. Home Office. Retrieved 28 September 2022.
- "Home Office business plan 2011 to 2015". Home Office. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
- "Business Plan: Home Office". Transparency.Number10.GOV.uk. 10 Downing Street. Archived from the original on 5 April 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
- "Changes to Home Office responsibilities". Casbah.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 9 July 2011. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
- Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research. Vol. 23–24. Longmans, Green. 1950. p. 197.
- "Home Office staff vote to strike over jobs and pay". BBC News. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
- Murray, Pete (25 July 2012). "PCS calls off Home Office olympic strike after extra staff are posted in". Union News. Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
- Dugan, Emily (9 June 2014). "Aderonke Apata deportation case: 'If the Home Office doesn't believe I'm gay, I'll send them a video that proves it'". The Independent. Archived from the original on 31 December 2020. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
- Dunt, Ian (3 March 2015). "Can you prove you're gay? Last minute legal battle for lesbian fighting deportation to Nigeria". Politics.co.uk. Archived from the original on 27 December 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
- Ashton, Jack (14 August 2017). "Nigerian gay rights activist who judge accused of 'faking' her sexuality wins 13-year legal battle for asylum in UK". The Independent. Archived from the original on 31 December 2020. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
- Dugan, Emily (3 April 2015). "Nigerian gay rights activist has her High Court asylum bid rejected - because judge doesn't believe she is lesbian". The Independent. Archived from the original on 31 December 2020. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
- Cohen, Claire (4 March 2015). "Home Office tells Nigerian asylum seeker: 'You can't be a lesbian, you've got children'". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 22 April 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
- Taylor, Diane (12 August 2017). "Nigerian gay rights activist wins UK asylum claim after 13-year battle". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 12 November 2020. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
- "Marsham Street/The Home Office". Terry Farrell. Archived from the original on 26 September 2006.
- "History of 1 Horse Guards Road". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
- "Police Science and Technology Strategy: 2004 – 2009" (PDF). Home Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 February 2007. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
- "Northern Ireland Act 1998, Schedule 2". Legislation.gov.uk. 4 November 1950. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
- "The Assembly - Official Report". Northern Ireland Assembly Information Office. 9 March 2010. Archived from the original on 16 December 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
- "About the NIO". Northern Ireland Office. Archived from the original on 17 September 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
- "Scotland Act 1998, Schedule 5, Part I". Legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
- Bulman, May (20 March 2019). "Home Office refuses Christian convert asylum by quoting Bible passages that 'prove Christianity is not peaceful'". The Independent. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
- Dodd, Liz (27 March 2019). "'Illiterate' Home Office quotes Jesus in asylum rejection letter". The Tablet. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
- Schaverien, Anna (21 March 2019). "Rejecting asylum claim, U.K. quotes Bible to say Christianity is not 'peaceful'". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
- Adeogun, Eno (2 April 2019). "Home Secretary orders urgent investigation into asylum rejection letter which criticised Bible". Premier Christian News. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
- "Britain bans heroic bishops: persecuted Christian leaders from war zones refused entry". Daily Express. 4 December 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
- "UK government discriminates against Christian refugees from Syria". Barnabas Fund. 2 November 2017. Archived from the original on 4 April 2019. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
- Shaw, Danny (8 April 2019). "Windrush: Home Office admits data breach in compensation scheme". BBC News.
- Hawkins, Ross (11 April 2019). "Brexit: Home Office sorry for EU citizen data breach". BBC News.
- Smith, Beckie (12 April 2019). "Home Office to launch independent review of data protection compliance". Civil Service World.
- Hill, Amelia (16 April 2019). "Court castigates Home Office over misuse of immigration law". The Guardian.
- Parkinson, Justin (25 November 2020). "Windrush generation: UK 'unlawfully ignored' immigration rules warnings". BBC News. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
- Official website
- Records created or inherited by the Home Office, Ministry of Home Security, and related bodies — gives a history of responsibilities of the Home Office, including which functions were merged into or transferred away from the Home Office