Nationality and Borders Bill: Bishop of London speaks in favour of amendment to protect migrant victims of crime

On 2nd March 2022, the House of Lords debated the Nationality and Borders Bill on the second day of the report stage. The Bishop of London spoke in support of an amendment to the bill which would prevent immigration data about victims of crime who report offences from being shared:

The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, I have added my name to Amendment 58A. I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, for introducing this new amendment. In Committee, I tabled an amendment looking to create a data firewall for survivors of domestic abuse. This amendment, however, is helpful in that it is broader in its scope and gets to the critical underlying principle: namely, that victims and witnesses of crime should not need to fear coming forward on account of their migration status. I and my colleagues on this Bench, including the right reverend Prelates the Bishops of Gloucester and Bristol, have highlighted these concerns, notably during the passage of the Domestic Abuse Bill.

The Government’s policies have been successful in at least one respect: they have created a real sense of fear and dread among migrants of approaching the authorities. The fear is of heavy-handed immigration enforcement. It includes detention, deportation, and being split from their family members. Many speak of this, so it seems that it is well founded. My concern is that it is not likely to be reduced by the Bill as it stands. These victims, who could receive support, or could actually help law enforcement in the fight against violence against women and girls, against domestic abuse, against FGM, against human trafficking or against a host of other evils, do not present themselves to the authorities. They are not prepared to be witnesses because they are fearful.

This is a real issue identified regularly by front-line agencies and is clearly a serious barrier to supporting victims and countering crime. This is the consequence of our own policy-making, and I am sure there must be a way to resolve it. This amendment provides one solution, which is why I support it. I hope that if the Minister rejects this amendment she will at least undertake to come back with an alternative route forward so that we are not forced to go through this again in future Bills.


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