UK Border Agency to create 'national allegations database'

What could POSSIBLY go wrong?

The home affairs committee has welcomed plans by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) to create a National Allegations Database to manage information provided by the public on possible immigration violations.

In a report (PDF) on the UKBA's work between December 2011 and March 2012, the committee says that overall, only 4 per cent of the intelligence reports received from the public resulted in enforcement. Outlining the figures, the document says that out of 25,600 allegations about possible illegal immigrants or other immigration violations received from the public between 9 December and 29 March, just 900 resulted in an enforcement visit.

It explains that although the agency is performing well in assessing tip-offs from the public quickly, with 98 per cent of the 25,600 allegations during December 2011 and March 2012 being assessed in 48 hours, it is still interested in the "low yield" of actionable intelligence that results from these tip-offs.

"We will be asking the agency to identify the main reasons for this. We understand it may be the result of the quality of the information reported to the agency and we expect to hear from the agency what its plan is to improve the quality of the information it receives when the database goes live," says the document.

Previous reports by the committee have highlighted an inconsistent approach by the agency to recording and following up on intelligence leads. The committee believes that the launch of the database will help the agency improve its performance in following up on tip-offs from citizens.

"We note the fact that the agency is having discussions over how feedback can be provided to those who report allegations when requested and appropriate, this will help to give the public confidence that genuine concerns are being investigated," says the report.

"We repeat our previous recommendation which is that people who make genuine complaints need to be told about the outcome."

The report says that the UKBA has confirmed the design of the database has been agreed, funding secured and an assessment has been made of staffing and operational requirements needed. The committee says it will be monitoring the progress of the database.

A spokesman for the Home Office told Government Computing that testing was still being carried out on the system and that it is expected to go live in September.

In its report on the UKBA, the committee also raises concerns about a huge backlog of 276,000 immigration cases, which it says is "larger than the population of Newcastle upon Tyne". The committee describes this level of backlog as unacceptable and says that it will be monitoring the numbers closely and expects to see them decline quickly.

This article was originally published at Government Computing.

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