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UK’s ‘Go Home Van’ stirs controversy

Aug 12, 2013, 8:48 AM | Article By: Alhagie Mbye, The Point’s UK Correspondent

A serious debate and argument has erupted over a Home Office scheme, which is currently calling for all illegal migrants to ‘leave’ the United Kingdom or ‘face arrest’.

The vans driving through several London boroughs calling on illegal immigrants to depart or be deported has angered not only human rights groups, but also many politicians both on the left and right of the political spectrum.

Migrant groups, politicians and several unions had reacted to the campaign. Many experts here saw the vans as a means of ‘intimidation’ and ‘causing panic’, while others believe that the scheme is the only ‘language that some of illegal migrants can understand’.

Recently, a Conservative MP for Wellingborough, Peter Bone, said openly that the ‘government should be congratulated’ for the pilot. But many disagreed and even filed formal complaints with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), forcing the Authority to announce that it is investigating the advert.

The ASA also admitted that so far it received ‘60 complaints’ and, therefore, will investigate. Furthermore, it said it had been ‘flooded with calls’ from people who are expressing concern that the advert was ‘offensive and irresponsible’.

The Liberal Democrats – a partner in the coalition government headed by David Cameron also criticised the plan.

Liberal Business Secretary Vince Cable, who is highly respected by both the British public and his peers, has described the scheme as ‘stupid and offensive’.

However, supporters of the plan including senior officials in government are not bowing to such critics, and the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, is insisting that the ‘scheme would be rolled out nationally if it proved effective’. The official blamed Labour - the previous government but now in opposition - for ‘causing’ the problem.

Labour for its part said it will continue to criticise the scheme until it was abandoned. Chris Bryant Shadow immigration minister responded, saying that one has got to ‘question the government’s competence’ for such actions. He added that instead, ‘we need effective action on immigration not offensive stunts’.

But the Home Office has said, ‘the pilot is working’, but did not say how many people had left the country as a result of it.

Nonetheless, human rights group Liberty disagreed, and has created its own advert in response, while the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) also demanded an investigation into immigration checks across the country, including airports.

Whatever the case, The Point can attest to the fact that checks are continuing.

This correspondent, who returned to London few days ago via another European capital, witnessed unprecedented searching across all exit points around the airport.

Nevertheless, as the debate continues over how to handle the issue, all those concerned have unanimously agreed that the UK is govern by proficient politicians who, despite their disagreements, respect the rule of law and justice, and thus ‘no individual,party or group can enforce anything alone’.

Thus the mainstream has accepted that it must be done in a reverent and competent manner to avoid unnecessary problems.

The ‘Go Home or Face Arrest’ debate continues.