Home Office admits some immigration data ‘only held on paper’

Written by Sam Trendall on 22 January 2020 in News

Department is unable to share information on numbers of asylum applicants granted right to work as case files are only in hard-copy or other non-reportable formats

Credit: Pixabay

Sections of Home Office immigration data are contained only in paper case files or in digital formats that are not “reportable”.

Victoria Atkins, the minister responsible for safeguarding and vulnerability, said that her department is not able to say how many asylum seekers were granted permission to work in the UK in 2019. This is due to the information in question being stored in various formats – including some that exists only on paper – that make it difficult to collate and share.

In answer to a written parliamentary question from Labour MP Catherine West, Atkins said: “The data requested on the number of asylum seekers granted permission to work in 2019 is only held on paper case files or within the notes sections of the Home Office's databases. This information is not held in a reportable format and to obtain it would exceed the disproportionate cost threshold.”

PublicTechnology asked the Home Office whether keeping such data only on paper was standard practice and, if so, whether it had plans to address the situation.

Related content

In response, a spokesperson said that the new Atlas digital case-working system currently being rolled out – which is designed to automate large parts of the immigration casework process – will ultimately eradicate the use of paper. The department has previously indicated that the implementation of Atlas for all newly created case files was due to have been completed by the end of 2019, with information from historic case files concurrently being migrated onto the new platform. 

“The Home Office are introducing a new immigration case-working system called Atlas,” the spokesperson said. “It will replace old systems with a modern and sustainable digital service – creating a more streamlined case-working process, providing more reliable and easier-to-access data, improving applicants’ experience and removing the requirement for paper files.”

There is an irony in the Home Office’s ongoing reliance on paper, given its steadfast and continued opposition to issuing any form of physical documents in other areas of the immigration system – namely the settled status scheme for EU citizens.

Select committees from both houses of parliament – as well as EU officials and advocacy groups – have strongly urged the department to rethink its decision to provide successful applicants evidence of settled status only in digital form. These calls have thus far gone entirely unheeded, with the Home Office repeatedly insisting that digital-only status is more secure.


About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

Share this page




Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.

Related Articles

Interview: UK national statistician on how data has helped the PM – and the public – in coronavirus response
20 October 2020

To mark World Statistics Day, Professor Sir Ian Diamond talks to PublicTechnology about how the work of statisticians has been crucial in supporting government’s pandemic response, as...

DWP faces ‘significant increase’ in fraud and error, watchdog warns
16 October 2020

NAO report reveals that, following heavy coronavirus-related recruitment, departmental staffing levels may return to 2013 levels

Related Sponsored Articles

Workspace, Not Workplace: How Agile Working Increases Productivity whilst Driving Engagement and Fostering Inclusivity
12 October 2020

2020 has been a year of unprecedented change for the UK public sector. Today’s agile working technology enables you to meet citizen needs in this challenging operating environment by empower your...

IT Resilience: The Key to a Successful Digital Transformation
22 September 2020

Steve Blow, tech evangelist at Zerto, explains why digital transformation efforts could be futile if local authorities don’t address and improve their IT resilience 

Reimagining Employee Engagement
13 October 2020

Studies have shown that an engaged employee is happier, more productive, and more committed to their job. So how can we encourage employee engagement? Trickle suggests innovative solutions ...

Why it is time to change our approach to cybersecurity
29 September 2020

Organisations need to understand that a single cybersecurity solution alone is not infallible and instead should move towards a multi-layered approach to security, according to experts from...