On Thursday (19 March 2020), the Home Secretary made a statement on the long-awaited Windrush lessons learned review.
The review was commissioned to provide an independent assessment of the events leading up to the Windrush scandal (particularly from 2008 to March 2018) and to identify the key lessons for the Home Office.
The review concluded that the Windrush scandal was foreseeable and avoidable, and that victims were let down by systematic operational failings at the Home Office. It has made many important and detailed recommendations.
The Home Secretary said she would review the recommendations that have been made in relation to the way the Home Office operates as an organisation. She said she will continue to look closely at its leadership, culture, practices and the way it views the communities it serves. The Home Secretary also announced that an expanded cross-Government Windrush working group will be launched to develop programmes to improve the lives of those affected.
The recommendations have three main elements: that the Home Office must acknowledge the wrong that has been done; that it must open itself up to external scrutiny; and that it must change its culture, to recognise that migration and wider Home Office policy is about people, and whatever the objective, it should always be rooted in humanity.
The Windrush scandal was not just a mistake, nor was it something that happened because people did not read the rules properly. As this review points out, it was rooted in the systemic culture of the Home Office and the failure of Ministers to listen to the warnings they were given about what the effects of the hostile environment could be on people perfectly legally entitled to be here.
This is a detailed review that deserves detailed scrutiny. It has been published at a very difficult time for the nation, but the Shadow Home Secretary has made clear that the Opposition will be coming back to the issues raised.