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Rewards for Home Office Presenting Officers


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Rehman Chishti: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many vouchers her Department has provided to her Department’s presenting officers for winning cases at immigration tribunals; what the (a) value and (b) store was of each such voucher; and whether these officers face penalties for losing cases.

Mr Harper [holding answer 27 November 2013]: No vouchers have ever been issued to presenting officers purely for winning cases at the immigration tribunals.

Since July 2012, 11 vouchers have been issued to presenting officers as a one-off recognition of individual performance at court. However, presenting officers’ performance is assessed equally by reference to other relevant factors that include the quality of preparation and advocacy.

The vouchers in question are valued at £25 each, and can be redeemed in a range of outlets. The total cost of these awards is thus £275.

Presenting officers’ performance is managed in accordance with the same performance management policy that applies to all Home Office staff. Where an officer’s overall performance is judged to be unsatisfactory, the Home Office’s poor performance procedure may be instigated.

Hansard : 16 Dec 2013 : Column 394W


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Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.


15 Responses

  1. Very interesting. No wonder the last one I saw in action was so furious that he had been given the bundle by the Home Office at the last moment, with hardly any time to prepare. Maybe someone was trying to make sure he did not get his vouchers? Unless they have someone else there to watch, how can they judge the performance apart from through results?

    1. Or, more likely, it’s because being handed a bundle at the last minute (from either side) is incredibly frustrating for anyone who wants to prepare adequately and do their job well – which I assume is the same for reps. It’s not just about money-grabbing. I don’t even know of anyone who’s benefited from this supposed rewards scheme (probably because not all POs are winning as many cases as they’d like) nor does it have any influence over PO performance.

    2. Of course that would be frustrating for anyone. I was just thinking of repercussions of the idea of aiming at a twenty five pound voucher, and the lengths that people might go to to either get one or stop others from getting one. It was not meant to be taken too seriously.

    3. Ha – thanks. I like what you are trying to do. I guess you could take it as some kind of accolade? Is it worth appealing? I can’t remember what you have to do for that but it is probably a waste of time.

    4. The ico have agreed that I’m vexatious on two of my requests so far… I have a funny feeling that itll go the same way… I guess over 100 requests was too many. Sadly, some of the requests were filed for others… from the looks of it, the deciding factor for the ico was that I linked to my own website with the text that many of my emails r ‘mostly just drivel, but hopefully youll find them useful.’. Lol. I’m deciding whether to take it to tribunal or not. Because their argument is mainly unfounded. Ie most of my requests have internal reviews requested. But this is because the request response was unsatisfactory and didnt provide the information requested, or was not prompt with the response. You’ve only got to look at the wdtk website to see the number of people who the ho breach the law with.

      Eh, gotta love the foi act though. I mean, anybody can ask for information the govt hold. Just never expect the ho to respond within 20 working days

  2. Rather than encourage HOPO’s to win cases at Tribunals as a means of quality control, is the money not better spent at the level of getting the decision right in the first place. Why instead of taking months and even years to make the simplest of decision, do the SSHD not instruct immigration experts in Garden Court, New Court, Renaissance to name but a few to make these decisions on her behalf?

    Surely the “Cab-rank-rule” applies or do anybody think there would be a conflict of interest? One of my friends Adam Ryes-Davies of counsel has occasionally appeared for the Home Office in the tribunal and it was a breath of fresh air to cross sword with someone who knew what they were doing and was not concerned with “£25 win voucher” but the wider interest of justice.

    1. Of course the impetus would not come from her caring about the money but could come from the outside, just as I always hope people will wake up to the enormous financial costs of keeping a person in detention. Could we ever get the Tax Payers Alliance interested – people who are concerned about the costs of immigration should be far more worried about all these costs than the drain on the health service or issues about housing etc. We definitely need a Get it right in the first place campaign.

  3. This issue about vouchers is a side show, the real issue is the fact that PO’s have a ‘win rate’embedded in their work plan objectives, regardless of the quality of the decision under appeal, what new evidence is presented at appeal (verbal or documentary), how the appellant does under cross examination, which way the ‘Judge Swings’, or the effectivness of your opponent (decent Counsel or cowboy rep, yes Nnaemaka, this varies on both sides, feel free to sit through an entire list some time as I do), PO’s are expected to win a fixed percentage of appeals. If a PO does not hit their win rate, they deemed to have failed this objective, which will in turn feature in their end if year appraisal.

    This has lead, I regret to say, to a tendency on the part of some of my colleagues to adjourn cases or withdraw decisions when they don’t fancy their chances in front of particular Judges. When I joined the Home Office, it was made clear that our first duty was to the court, the ‘win rate’ concept has corrupted this, sadly.

    1. Thank you. That is very interesting and I suppose no one should be surprised that the targets culture should be so pervasive, with similar results in this field as in teaching, health, etc – i.e. working all the time in the context of being measured by someone else’s priorities and less able to use one’s own judgement, which would be informed by a much greater variety of factors. Now can someone please tell me what incentives are given to Immigration Judges? Why are some so shockingly harsh – or is it that the power over life and death goes to their heads?

    1. A woman judge when looking at the MLR of someone who had been subject to very brutal treatment saying that she had two small boys who sometimes got into fights but she would not call that torture. I imagined being the person before her (whom I had come to support) and what effect that kind of flippant comment would have. Of course I don’t object to a judge deciding on evidence that an appellant does not have a good case, I can let you have other examples when I have more time.

    2. I think it is wrong that certain judges are known for being harsh and that when you mention their name, other people have the same reaction. One who is well known to be of this type rushed through a very complicated case in a very bad tempered manner, criticising the barrister for being late (which he was) but giving no reassurance to the client. The interpretation was very bad, probably made worse by the atmosphere he created. He did not follow the directions of the previous judge (who was ill) and it was clear from his determination that he had not understood the essence of the case (that the man had apparently been returned to Cameroon on the last occasion with paperwork drawing attention to his asylum claim handed over by Kenya Airways staff and that the role played by UKBA in this needed to be examined closely.) The Home Office were asked by the first judge to produce a letter from the individual responsible for this previous removal, but they did not comply and were not brought to task (partly fault of barrister too). The man is now back in the country, having to live in hiding.