HOME Office officials have lost track of over 600,000 foreigners over-staying their visa and have no idea if they have actually gone home, according to a new report.
A scathing report yesterday said a new database had – as at September last year – collected data on approximately 10 million foreigners “whose last period of leave” had expired in the two previous years.
It added that “the system contained no evidence of departure for 601,222″
A check on Chinese tourists found that of 52,238 required to leave between April 2015 and March 2016, there was no departure record for 8,474 – or 16 per cent.
It was only when the British Embassy in Beijing was contacted that officials confirmed the “vast majority” had left.
Former Immigration Minister James Brokenshire in 2014 vowed the Government would be “delivering 100 per cent exit checks” on the 100 million passengers who leave Britain by air, sea or rail by April 2015.
The report summarised an inspection on the system by David Bolt’s team. In it, one anonymous Home Office employee said: “We were certainly mis-sold the Programme. We were initially told that the system would tell us if someone has or has not left the country.
“It sounds so simple, but the reality is that there are so many ways in which the data can get muddled and confused. Internally, there was no comprehension at the vast and complicated nature of the data and the patterns we are seeing.”
The Home Office last night insisted that just because there was no record of 600,000 foreigners leaving, it did not mean they hadn’t left.
A spokesman said: “Exit checks are helping us focus operational activity better on those people who do not comply with our immigration rules.
“Information gathered has also been invaluable to the police and security services who have used it to help track known criminals and terrorists, supporting wider work taking place across government and law enforcement.”