Home Office

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Home Office
Logo

2 Marsham Street, Westminster
Department overview
Formed27 March 1782; 241 years ago (1782-03-27)
Preceding Department
JurisdictionGovernment of the United Kingdom
Headquarters2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF
Annual budget£10.8 billion (current) and £500 million (capital) in 2018–19[1]
Secretary of State responsible
Ministers of State (attending Cabinet) responsible
Department executive
Websitegov.uk/home-office Edit this at Wikidata
A Home Office Immigration Enforcement vehicle in north London

The Home Office (HO), also known (especially in official papers and when referred to in Parliament) as the Home Department,[2] 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, counterterrorism, 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.

The Cabinet minister responsible for the department is the Home Secretary,[3] 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.

The expenditure, administration, and policy of the Home Office are scrutinised by the Home Affairs Select Committee.[4]

Organisation[edit]

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:[5]

Non-ministerial government departments[edit]

Inspectorates / accountability[edit]

Divisions[edit]

Non-departmental public bodies[edit]

Operations[edit]

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.[6]

These included:

Budget[edit]

Program Resource Funding
(in millions £)
Capital Funding
(in millions £)
Science, Technology, Analysis, Research, and Strategy 214.2 84.6
Homeland Security 1,133.2 153.7
Public Safety 10,232.7 131.3
Migration and Borders 216.7 157.9
Immigration and Passports 541.9 43.3
Borders and Enforcement 702.1 154.2
Administration 1,277.3 39.7
Technology 290.3 60.2
Legal 10.6 0
Communications 16.1 0.5
Arm's Length Bodies 134.7 15.2
TOTAL 15,580.9 890.5

Contractors[edit]

The Home Office outsources to a number of contractors to handle specific duties relating to its mission.

Contractor Duty
G4S Administering Detention centres and Removals
Mitie Immigration Management
Sopra Steria Residence documents processing services
TLScontact Visa processing services
VFS Global

Home Office ministers[edit]

The Home Office ministers are as follows, with cabinet ministers in bold:[7]

Minister Portrait Office Portfolio
The Rt Hon. James Cleverly MP Secretary of State for the Home Department Overall responsibility for all Home Office business, including:; 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.[8]
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.[9]
The Rt Hon. Michael Tomlinson MP Minister of State for Countering Illegal Immigration Safety of Rwanda Bill; Illegal Migration Act implementation; Nationality and Borders Act implementation; small boats policy; asylum and modern slavery policy; upstream and organised immigration crime; returns and removals; Migration and Economic Development Partnership; third country agreements and third country asylum processing; foreign national offender removal; detention estate; Immigration Enforcement; compliant environment.[10]
Tom Pursglove MP Minister of State for Legal Migration and Delivery Net migration; UK points-based system; simplifying the immigration system and immigration rules; current and future visa policy; nationality; Windrush; Home Office interests in free trade; Future Borders and Immigration System and Border Strategy 2025; agreements; UK Visas and Immigration, HM Passport Office and EU Settlement Scheme; asylum decision making (backlog); accommodation (closing hotels); Border Force operations;

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 British Nationals (Overseas), Gaza and Israel.[11]

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.

Priorities[edit]

The Department outlined its aims for this Parliament in its Business Plan, which was published in May 2011, and superseded its Structural Reform Plan.[12] The plan said the department will:

1. Empower the public to hold the police to account for their role in cutting crime
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.[13]

History[edit]

On 27 March 1782; 241 years ago (1782-03-27), 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 (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:[14]

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.[16] The union called off the strike; it claimed the department had, consequent to the threat of actions, announced 1,100 new border jobs.[17]

Windrush scandal[edit]

The first allegations about the targeting of pre-1973 Caribbean migrants started in 2013.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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.[18][19][20][21][22] In 2014, Apata said that she would send an explicit video of herself to the Home Office to prove her sexuality.[18] This resulted in her asylum bid gaining widespread support, with multiple petitions created in response, which gained hundreds of thousands of signatures combined.[20]

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.[23]

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

Location[edit]

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.[24]

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.[25]

Research[edit]

To meet the UK's five-year science and technology strategy,[26] 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

Devolution[edit]

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]

Excepted matters:[27]

The following matters were not transferred at the devolution of policing and justice on 12 April 2010, and remain reserved:[28]

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.

Scotland[edit]

Reserved matters:[30]

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

Wales[edit]

Reserved matters:

Criticism[edit]

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.[31] 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.[32] As criticism grew on social media, the Home Office distanced itself from the decision, though it confirmed the letter was authentic.[33] 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.[34]

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.[35][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.[36]

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.[37] 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.[38] In response to these incidents, the Home Office pledged to launch an independent review of its data protection compliance.[39]

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.[40]

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".[41]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  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. Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  3. ^ "Secretary of State for the Home Department - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 3 January 2023.
  4. ^ "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.
  5. ^ "Departments, agencies and public bodies - GOV.UK". GOV.uk. Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  6. ^ "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.
  7. ^ This article contains OGL licensed text This article incorporates text published under the British Open Government Licence: "Our ministers". GOV.UK. Home Office. Retrieved 28 September 2022.
  8. ^ "Secretary of State for the Home Department - GOV.UK". GOV.UK. Retrieved 7 December 2023.
  9. ^ "Minister of State (Minister for Security) - GOV.UK". GOV.UK. Retrieved 7 December 2023.
  10. ^ "Minister of State (Minister for Illegal Migration) - GOV.UK". GOV.UK. Retrieved 26 December 2023.
  11. ^ "Minister of State (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery) - GOV.UK". GOV.UK. Retrieved 7 December 2023.
  12. ^ "Home Office business plan 2011 to 2015". Home Office. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  13. ^ "Business Plan: Home Office". Transparency.Number10.GOV.uk. 10 Downing Street. Archived from the original on 5 April 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  14. ^ "Changes to Home Office responsibilities". Casbah.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 9 July 2011. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  15. ^ Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research. Vol. 23–24. Longmans, Green. 1950. p. 197.
  16. ^ "Home Office staff vote to strike over jobs and pay". BBC News. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ a b 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.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ a b 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.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ "Marsham Street/The Home Office". Terry Farrell. Archived from the original on 26 September 2006.
  25. ^ "History of 1 Horse Guards Road". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  26. ^ "Police Science and Technology Strategy: 2004 – 2009" (PDF). Home Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 February 2007. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  27. ^ "Northern Ireland Act 1998, Schedule 2". Legislation.gov.uk. 4 November 1950. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  28. ^ "The Assembly - Official Report". Northern Ireland Assembly Information Office. 9 March 2010. Archived from the original on 16 December 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  29. ^ "About the NIO". Northern Ireland Office. Archived from the original on 17 September 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  30. ^ "Scotland Act 1998, Schedule 5, Part I". Legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  31. ^ 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.
  32. ^ Dodd, Liz (27 March 2019). "'Illiterate' Home Office quotes Jesus in asylum rejection letter". The Tablet. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  33. ^ 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.
  34. ^ Adeogun, Eno (2 April 2019). "Home Secretary orders urgent investigation into asylum rejection letter which criticised Bible". Premier Christian News. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  35. ^ "Britain bans heroic bishops: persecuted Christian leaders from war zones refused entry". Daily Express. 4 December 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  36. ^ "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.
  37. ^ Shaw, Danny (8 April 2019). "Windrush: Home Office admits data breach in compensation scheme". BBC News.
  38. ^ Hawkins, Ross (11 April 2019). "Brexit: Home Office sorry for EU citizen data breach". BBC News.
  39. ^ Smith, Beckie (12 April 2019). "Home Office to launch independent review of data protection compliance". Civil Service World.
  40. ^ Hill, Amelia (16 April 2019). "Court castigates Home Office over misuse of immigration law". The Guardian.
  41. ^ Parkinson, Justin (25 November 2020). "Windrush generation: UK 'unlawfully ignored' immigration rules warnings". BBC News. Retrieved 25 November 2020.

External links[edit]