Everyone should be able to speak with a doctor in confidence. A parent should know that their children can attend school without sparking a visit from immigration enforcement. And somebody escaping trafficking or domestic violence should be able to trust a police officer or social worker.

Unfortunately, much of migrants’ personal data is exempted from the protections the rest of us enjoy. Data-sharing agreements between the Home Office and other government departments, and agencies, mean that people with concerns about their status are often afraid to seek medical treatment, send their children to school or even report crime to the police. More than half of all UK police forces have handed over victims of crime to immigration enforcement.

We all lose out when doctors, nurses, teachers and police officers can’t build the trust they need to do their jobs.

If we’re committed to ensuring that everybody feels safe reporting a crime, that all children go to school and that a doctor’s surgery remains a safe place for all of us, we must create proper safeguards for data and privacy.

"I feel so guilty that they used my medical evidence against my father"

A teenage girl quoted in the Sunday Times after immigration officials accessed medical reports on her suicide attempt and used evidence therein to reject her family’s asylum claim.

Our recommendations

  • Introduce new data and privacy guarantees in order to ensure that personal information provided to medical practitioners, educational institutions or police officers is not used for the purposes of immigration enforcement
  • Provide police forces with guidance and support so that anybody, regardless of their immigration status, feels safe reporting crime as a victim or a witness
  • Support the establishment of ‘safe surgeries’, so that GP surgeries can build trust with their migrant patients and keep our communities healthy

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