Outrage over scheme to electronically tag refugees arriving in the UK | Immigration and asylum

The Home Office has been accused of “victim blaming” asylum seekers after launching a scheme to electronically tag refugees arriving in the UK.

Ministers faced calls to abandon the “farce of a policy” after suggestions that those who recently avoided being sent to Rwanda after a legal challenge could be among the first to be tagged under the programme.

Under the 12-month pilot scheme, which began last week, some of those arriving aboard small boats from France or in the back of lorries will be tagged. The Home Office has said the trial will examine whether electronic monitoring can help maintain regular contact with migrants and help to advance their claims. It will also collect data on how many people abscond from immigration bail.

However, critics said that there was no evidence that asylum seekers were absconding. Clare Moseley, founder of the Care4Calais charity, said: “I think it’s outrageous. Refugees in general do not abscond. There’s no data that shows that they do – they never have done. They are here to claim asylum, so why would they? They’re not criminals, they’re victims. Things happen to them. They didn’t cause it. It’s just another part of the government criminalising refugees, which is basically victim-blaming.”

Boris Johnson defended the plans on Saturday. He said it was important that people entering the country did not “vanish” from the system. “This is a very, very generous, welcoming country,” he said. “Quite right too. I am proud of it, but when people come here illegally, when they break the law, it is important that we make that distinction. That is what we are doing with our Rwanda policy.”

Stephen Kinnock, shadow immigration minister, said the policy was “yet another desperate attempt to distract public attention from the fact that under this home secretary asylum decisions have plummeted, the backlog has grown and they are completely failing to tackle the criminal gangs.” Labor leader Keir Starmer accused the government of “chasing headlines”.

Alistair Carmichael, home affairs spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, said: “Conservative ministers have got themselves into a complete mess over this. The stnch of incompetence is unbearable. This is almost like a determined effort to waste as much taxpayers’ money as possible. Each day they trash the Great British tradition of treating people with respect. It’s time they did the decent thing and just gave up on this farce of a policy.”

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