All 43 police forces across England and Wales and the British Transport Police have shared information about victims and survivors of domestic abuse with immigration enforcement at some point in the last three years, according to new data published today.
This practice stops victims from reporting domestic abuse and allows perpetrators to evade justice, according to a report, published today by the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs. Jacobs has today written to the Home Secretary calling for a firewall to stop police and other services from reporting victims to immigration enforcement.
Police made 537 referrals to the Home Office for immigration investigation in relation to victims and survivors reporting domestic abuse between April 2020 to March 2023, according to the figures obtained from the Home Office.
The Domestic Abuse Commissioner says perpetrators of domestic abuse use the threat of immigration enforcement to control victims. Serial rapist and former police officer David Carrick reportedly threatened one of his victims with immigration enforcement if she reported him for abuse.
The Commissioner is calling on government to establish a data sharing firewall preventing the police and public services like health and social care from sharing victims’ data with the Home Office. Nicole Jacobs says the change should be introduced as an amendment to Victims and Prisoners Bill, which was announced on Tuesday in the Government’s King’s Speech and aims to better serve victims and the public.
The Domestic Abuse Commissioner says: “At the point when victims have come to the police for safety from abuse, they are met with what many fear most: contact with immigration enforcement. Migrant victims have told me that this plays into the perpetrator’s tactics of control.
“This data show there is not a single police force where migrant victims are treated as victims first and foremost. This must change now. Only with the introduction of a Firewall can the Victims and Prisoners Bill ensure justice and protection for all, not just some, victims.”
Of the immigration status check referrals made by police, no enforcement action such as detention or removal was made in the 3 years to March 2023, according to the report. The Domestic Abuse Commissioner added, “That no immigration enforcement action was taken against victims shows us that this practice is serving no one, but the fear it instils creates a high cost to the safety of victims and the public.”
The police called immigration enforcement in front of one victim, when she reported her ex-partner for stalking and control, the report says. Shortly after she received an immigration enforcement letter which caused her to withdraw from domestic abuse support.