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Home Office decides not to adopt a data firewall for migrant victims of domestic abuse

The Domestic Abuse Commissioner has said the decision of the Home Office not to put in place a data-sharing firewall between the police and immigration enforcement is "extremely disappointing".

The Commissioner's report, 'Safety Before Status', had found that migrant victims fear reporting domestic abuse to the police due to their belief that their details will be passed to immigration enforcement. The report recommended that the Home Office implement a firewall to prevent the transfer of information between the police and immigration enforcement to encourage victims to come forward without fear of deportation.

However, on 5th January 2022 the Home Office published a Policy Paper responding to the report and confirmed that they will not be implementing such a firewall. Whilst the Home Office acknowledged that 'the fear of immigration action being taken can make victims more reluctant to seek help', the Home Office concluded that instead of a firewall an 'Immigration Enforcement Migrant Victims Protocol' will instead be implemented.

In an online post, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner commented:

"The decision by the Home Office not to adopt a Firewall is extremely disappointing and will mean that migrant victims of domestic abuse are unable to safely report perpetrators for fear of deportation. In many cases victims may feel forced to stay with perpetrators who will never be brought to justice. The measures outlined in the protocol announced by the Home Office on December 16th do not go far enough to address the fear that information will be shared with immigration enforcement, which prevents many victims and survivors from reporting domestic abuse."

For the government Policy Paper response to the Commissioner's 'Safety Before Status' report, click here.  For the Domestic Abuse Commissioner's response, click here.

Julia Queen, Barrister, Coram Chambers

9/1/2022