Migrant domestic abuse victims ‘fear immigration action if they go to police’
The Domestic Abuse Commissioner has raised concerns after figures showed hundreds of police referrals have been made to the Home Office for investigation into the immigration status of victims and survivors of such abuse in recent years.
Every police force across Wales and England referred victims of domestic abuse to Immigration Enforcement at some point between April 2020 to March 2023, according to data obtained by the Commissioner’s office from the Home Office.
Commissioner Nicole Jacobs’ report said this shows there is “nowhere that victims could safely report to police without fear of immigration action”.
She said migrant victims and survivors “face a stark choice: staying silent and risking further violence from the perpetrator, or reporting their abuse and fearing immigration action”.
In that three-year period, there were 537 immigration status inquiries made by police regarding victims of domestic abuse, the Commissioner said.
She has written to Home Secretary Suella Braverman calling for a so-called “firewall” on data-sharing between Immigration Enforcement and statutory services such as police “so that migrant victims and witnesses can safely report domestic abuse and other crimes” without fear of immigration checks being done.
Ms Jacobs said: “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.”
The Commissioner said that of the immigration status check referrals made by police, no enforcement action such as detention or removal was taken in that period.
She 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.”
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