An investigation into UK Visas and Immigration’s handling of Windrush man’s status


  1. In considering our recommendations, we have referred to our Principles for Remedy. These state that where poor service or maladministration has led to injustice or hardship, the organisation responsible should take steps to put things right.  

  1. Our Principles say that public organisations should seek continuous improvement, and should use the lessons learnt from complaints to ensure they do not repeat maladministration or poor service.  

  1. We have found maladministration in three main areas:  

  • decision making, where relevant considerations were not taken into account

  • record keeping, where there was a failure to record Mr V’s status, the decision making relating to his case and the evidence he provided

  • complaint handling, where there was delay, a failure to respond to all the issues raised, and a failure to attempt to put right what had gone wrong. 

  1. In considering systemic recommendations we have taken into account that a number of reports have looked at the events leading up to the Windrush scandal. We have identified key lessons and recommendations for the Home Office to take forward. These include Wendy Williams’ Lessons Learned Review and the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s recent assessment of hostile environment immigration policies.  

  1. In response to the recommendations from Wendy Williams’ Lessons Learned Review the Government committed to a comprehensive improvement plan, published in September 2020. This includes a commitment to identify those affected by the Windrush scandal and to help people affected resolve their status. The improvement plan includes a number of commitments in terms of decision-making with the Home Office pledging that they will put people first and take proper account of the complexity of citizen’s lives in order to make the right decisions. The improvement plan also includes details of how the Home Office intends to better manage its records. These include moving to a single digital repository for information and training and support for staff on good information and records management practice.  

  1. Because of this we do not consider it is necessary to make further recommendations in relation to decision making or record keeping. We note Wendy Williams will return to the Home Office to review their progress in implementing her recommendations in September 2021. 

  1. In terms of complaint handling, the Home Office made a commitment to reviewing the Borders, Immigration and Citizenship system complaint process. They have told us that they have now completed this review, conducted by the Government Internal Audit Agency. They said they are taking forward a series of improvements designed to ensure the complaints process is clearly signposted for customers, that the process for responding is more efficient and informative and that they gather and use the insight they receive from customers more effectively. They said they have noted how other government departments introduced an Independent Complaints Examiner (ICE) to enhance the transparency and integrity of their complaints system and said they are exploring a proposal for a Home Office model. They said these two changes are a progressive cultural step for the department, making them better at treating their customers with respect and identifying issues early and learning from their mistakes. 

  1. As part of this positive work to improve the complaints process and alongside the changes already underway, we recommend that within three months UKVI and Immigration Enforcement: 

  • explore the lessons learned in this case where there was a failure to respond properly to the serious issues raised and no attempt to put right what had gone wrong  

  • consider how learning from complaints with Windrush themes can be identified so that the complaints process is part of developing a learning culture and a method for continuous improvement (paragraph 54), and as an opportunity to provide fair outcomes for those affected.  

  • report back to us, Ms V and the Chairs of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee and the Home Affairs Select Committee on the lessons learned from this complaint.  

We also recommend they share this learning with Wendy Williams when she reviews their progress against her recommendations. 

  1. Our principles say that public bodies should promptly identify and acknowledge maladministration and poor service, and apologise for them. This includes expressing sincere regret for any resulting injustice or hardship. We recommend that within six weeks UKVI and Immigration Enforcement should write to Ms V to apologise for the impact the maladministration we have identified in this report had on her father, Mr V, and herself. 

  2. Our principles state that public organisations should ‘put things right’ and, if possible, return the person affected to the position they would have been in if the poor service had not occurred. If that is not possible, they should compensate them appropriately.  

  3. To determine a level of financial remedy, we review similar cases where similar injustice has arisen, along with our severity of injustice scale.  

  1. Following this review, we recommend that, within six weeks, Immigration Enforcement and UKVI should:  

  • Pay Ms V £10,000 in recognition of the severe distress she has suffered over an extended period of time. 

In deciding on this amount we have considered our Severity of Injustice scale. We have particularly taken into account the impact of what happened on Mr V’s relationships with Ms V and her children in the last years of his life and the serious and lasting impact of this on Ms V.