Publishing the report, David Bolt said:
As this may be the last of my reports to be published while I am in post (though a number of other completed reports are currently with the Secretary of State), I would have preferred to be sounding a more positive note.
However, while the Home Office has improved its handling of refugee family reunion applications since I first looked at this in 2016, and while I welcome the fact that all applications will soon be considered by asylum caseworkers, and hope that this brings greater consistency, sensitivity and compassion to these life-changing decisions, it is disappointing that the department has taken 9 months to publish my latest report. This inevitably undercuts some of its comments about what it has done and plans to do in response to my recommendations.
In this case, however, the delay is a secondary issue. In her Windrush Report, Wendy Williams alluded to how the Home Office was more likely to accept and implement my “process-related” recommendations than those “deeper-rooted” recommendations that require “proper evaluation of the impact of policies on different groups of people”. The response to this inspection is a perfect illustration.
I recommended that the Home Office should clarify its position in relation to those areas of policy that have been the subject of Parliamentary and stakeholder interest, in particular: child sponsors; dependent family members over 18 years of age; funding for DNA tests; availability of legal aid. And, importantly, that it should provide supporting evidence. Its clarification simply reiterates its familiar lines and offers no supporting evidence to show that it has either monitored or evaluated the impact of its policies. This is a pity, particularly in light of heightened concerns at present about the provision of safe and legal routes, and I would hope that the Home Office recognises the importance of demonstrating that it has thoroughly and carefully considered every option.
Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration