Home secretary promises overhaul of Home Office culture in response to Windrush scandal
Home secretary Priti Patel has promised a “full evaluation” of the Home Office's 'hostile environment' policy in response to the Windrush scandal, adding that the £1.5 million Windrush compensation scheme was “just the beginning”.
Patel also confirmed that mandatory training would be brought in for Home Office personnel, along with a holding of reconciliation events with victims of the Windrush scandal.
She also pledged that there would be more diverse shortlists for senior roles and that her commitment to changing the Home Office environment was “fundamentally solid and firm”.
Patel said: “I have been on the receiving end of certain practices in the Home Office as well, which quite frankly speak to some of the points that came out of Wendy Williams' review."
The Wendy Williams report into the Windrush scandal said that the Home Office was guilty of “ignorance and thoughtlessness” and Patel accepted the 30 recommendations put forward in the report in full.
The home secretary added: "There are simply not enough individuals from black, Asian or minority ethnic staff working at the top in senior roles and there are far too many times where I am the only non-white face in the room.
"The injustices of Windrush did not happen because Home Office staff were bad people, but because staff themselves were caught up in a system where they did not feel they had the permission to bring personal judgement to bear.”
The Windrush scandal also saw the government’s 'hostile environment' measures to curb illegal immigration come under immense scrutiny, including its ‘deport first, appeal later’ approach and more stringent checks on who has the right to work in the UK.
Addressing MPs in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Patel said that the Windrush scandal was a “stain on the face” of the UK and the Home Office, and that her response to the controversy had been “swift, strong and uncompromising”.
Patel vowed that “sweeping reforms” of Home Office culture would follow, along with a review into “every aspect of how the department operates, its leadership, the culture, policies, practices and the way it views and treats all parts of the communities it serves”.
In September 2021, inspector of constabulary Williams will be invited back to the Home Office to assess the changes.
Labour shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said that the government continues to “fall woefully short” on delivering the action needed for “real and lasting change”.
He said: "Looking at the failure to act on so many previous reviews, the government is falling woefully short on that action and that's why we will be holding them to account for delivering the vital changes outlined in this report and to act with the urgency that is required."