Diane Abbott has said that the government should not allow the Windrush report and its recommendations to be “buried” as a result of being published “at a time of national crisis” amid the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.
The Shadow Home Secretary made the intervention during a parliamentary debate today, following the completion and presentation of the investigation into the scandal to the Home Office on Wednesday.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Abbott said: “We shouldn’t allow the fact that the review has been published at a time of national crisis, to mean that the review and its recommendations are buried.”
She outlined that the review states that the Home Office must acknowledge the wrong done, open itself up to external scrutiny and change its culture to reflect that its policies are about people and should be “rooted in humanity”.
Abbott went on to say: “The review into the lessons of Windrush and some genuine contrition from the government are long overdue. The verdict that there are elements of institutional racism at the Home Office is damning, and means there must be a root and branch overhaul and change of culture.
“But there must also be an end to the government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy, or there will never be an end to new cases in this scandal.”
“We shouldn’t allow the fact that the review has been published at a time of national crisis, to mean that the review and its recommendations are buried,” says shadow home secretary Diane Abbott
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) March 19, 2020
The Windrush scandal saw the UK government wrongly designate thousands of citizens as illegally resident in the country. Many were deported or detained in immigration centres as a result.
A “lessons learned” review was commissioned by Savid Javid as the then Home Secretary after the scandal came to the attention of the public.
Inspector of the constabulary Wendy Williams has been working on the report since then, for a period of about 20 months. Publication had been expected at the end of last year but was delayed.
The 275-page document reports that the government showed an “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race” and identifies “operational and organisational failures”.
It states that the “root cause” of the scandal can be traced back to successive pieces of legislation that were passed throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
Williams said that “race clearly played a part in what occurred” and suggested that some of the failing determined in the review could be indicators of “indirect discrimination”.
She spoke to former Home Secretaries Amber Rudd, Theresa May, Alan Johnson and Jacqui Smith throughout the process, and today’s document includes a total of 30 recommendations for the government department.