2 Marsham Street, the headquarters of the Home Office
|Formed||27 March 1782|
|Jurisdiction||United Kingdom (but in respect of most policing and justice matters: England and Wales only)|
|Headquarters||2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF|
|Annual budget||£10.8 billion (current) and £500 million (capital) in 2018–19|
The Home Office (HO), also known (especially in official papers and when referred to in Parliament) as the Home Department, is a ministerial department of the Government of the United Kingdom, responsible for immigration, security, and law and order. As such, it is responsible for policing in England and Wales, fire and rescue services in England, visas and immigration, and the Security Service (MI5). It is also in charge of government policy on security-related issues such as drugs, counter-terrorism, and ID cards. It was formerly responsible for Her Majesty's Prison Service and the National Probation Service, but these have been transferred to the Ministry of Justice.
The Cabinet minister responsible for the department is the home secretary, a post considered one of the Great Offices of State; it has been held since July 2019 by Priti Patel. The Home Office is managed from day to day by a civil servant, the permanent under-secretary of state of the Home Office.
The expenditure, administration and policy of the Home Office are scrutinised by the Home Affairs Select Committee.
The Home Office is headed by the home secretary, a Cabinet minister supported by the department's senior civil servant, the permanent secretary.
As of October 2014, the Home Office comprises the following organisations:
A number of functions of the National Policing Improvement Agency were transferred to the Home Office in October 2012, ahead of the future abolition of the agency.
(in millions £)
|Capital Funding |
(in millions £)
|Science, Technology, Analysis, Research, and Strategy||214.2||84.6|
|Migration and Borders||216.7||157.9|
|Immigration and Passports||541.9||43.3|
|Borders and Enforcement||702.1||154.2|
|Arm's Length Bodies||134.7||15.2|
The Home Office outsources a number of contractors to handle specific duties relating to its mission.
|G4S||Administering Detention centres and Removals|
|Sopra Steria||Residence documents processing services|
|TLScontact||Visa processing services|
The Home Office ministers are as follows:
|The Rt Hon Priti Patel MP||Secretary of State||Overall responsibility for the work of the department; overarching responsibility for the departmental portfolio and oversight of the ministerial team; cabinet; National Security Council (NSC); public appointments.|
|The Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP||Minister of State for Security||Counter terrorism – prepare, prevent, pursue, protect; serious and organised crime; cybercrime; economic crime; hostile state activity; royal and VIP protection; online harms; Common Travel Area; aviation and maritime security; Commons lead on transition period (named EU Exit Operations board deputy); fire; Grenfell; flooding/hurricane/natural disaster relief; ensuring COVID-19 regulations continue to consider security (crowded places, insider threat, data retention extension); oversight of fraud during COVID-19. MI5 Oversight.|
|Kit Malthouse MP||Minister of State for Crime & Policing||Policing; crime; county lines; criminal justice system; acquisitive crime; public protection and protests; undercover policing; Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS); police technology; police powers; facial recognition; major events; football policing; reoffending; unauthorised encampments; firearms; serious violence; drugs and alcohol.|
|The Baroness Williams of Trafford||Minister of State for Countering Extremism||All Home Office business in the House of Lords; overall corporate lead including Spending Review and Budget; data and identity; enablers; digital and technology including the emergency services network; public appointments; sponsorship unit; countering extremism; hate crime; forensic science and DNA.|
|The Lord Greenhalgh||Minister of State for Building Safety and Communities
(Jointly with MoHC&LG)
|Building Safety Programme; Grenfell recovery and public inquiry; Resilience and Emergencies Minister, including transformation and non-Covid/Transition winter response (e.g. flooding); Leasehold and freehold abuses; faith and communities; Holocaust Memorial.|
|Rachel Maclean MP||Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Safeguarding||Modern slavery and the national referral mechanism; domestic abuse; violence against women and girls including female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage; early youth intervention on serious violence; Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS); victims; child sexual abuse and exploitation; Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse; Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority; sexual violence including the rape review; anti-social behaviour; prostitution; stalking; online internet safety/WeProtect; victims of terrorism; Security Industry Authority.|
|Kevin Foster MP||Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Immigration and Future Borders||Design and implementation of a) the UK's points-based system, b) digital and secure borders including Electronic Travel Authorities; counting in and counting out; current and future visa system including fees; global visa operations; net migration; immigration rules; immigration system simplification; exit checks; Immigration Bill; EU Settlement Scheme; immigration casework; sponsorship of UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), Her Majesty's Passport Office (HMPO) and Borders, Immigration and Citizenship System (BICS) policy directorates; border health measures (cross-government policy, DfT lead)|
|Tom Pursglove MP||Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Immigration Compliance and Courts
(Jointly with MoJ)
|Compliance environment; detention; returns; foreign; national offenders; illegal immigration strategy; overseas development aid; Immigration Enforcement; asylum; resettlement; casework; nationality; animals (illegal wildlife trade); sponsorship of Border Force and Immigration Enforcement directorates.|
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|Politics of the United Kingdom|
The Department outlined its aims for this Parliament in its Business Plan, which was published in May 2011, and superseded its Structural Reform Plan. The plan said the department will:
The Home Office publishes progress against the plan on the 10 Downing Street website.
On 27 March 1782, the Home Office was formed by renaming the existing Southern Department, with all existing staff transferring. On the same day, the Northern Department was renamed the Foreign Office.
To match the new names, there was a transferring of responsibilities between the two Departments of State. All domestic responsibilities (including colonies) were moved to the Home Office, and all foreign matters became the concern of the Foreign Office.
Most subsequently created domestic departments (excluding, for instance, those dealing with education) have been formed by splitting responsibilities away from the Home Office.
The initial responsibilities were:
Responsibilities were subsequently changed over the years that followed:
The Home Office retains a variety of functions that have not found a home elsewhere, and sit oddly with the main law-and-order focus of the department, such as regulation of British Summer Time.
On 18 July 2012, the Public and Commercial Services Union announced that thousands of Home Office employees would go on strike over jobs, pay and other issues. The union called off the strike; it claimed the department had, consequent to the threat of actions, announced 1,100 new border jobs.
The first allegations about the unfair targeting of pre-1973 Caribbean migrants started in 2013. In 2018, the allegations were put to the Home Secretary in the House of Commons, and resulted in the resignation of the then Home Secretary. The Windrush scandal resulted in some British citizens being wrongly deported, and being refused life critical medical treatment, along with a further compensation scheme for those affected, and a wider debate on the Home Office hostile environment policy.
Aderonke Apata, a Nigerian LGBT activist, made two asylum claims that were both rejected by the Home Office in 2014 and on 1 April 2015 respectively, due to her previously having been in a relationship with a man and having children with that man. In 2014, Apata said that she would send an explicit video of herself to the Home Office to prove her sexuality. This resulted in her asylum bid gaining widespread support, with multiple petitions created in response, which gained hundreds of thousands of signatures combined.
On 8 August 2017, after a thirteen-year legal battle and after a new appeal from Apata was scheduled for late July, she was granted refugee status in the United Kingdom by the Home Office.
Until 1978, the Home Office had its offices in what is now the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Main Building on King Charles Street, off Whitehall. From 1978 to 2004, the Home Office was then located at 50 Queen Anne's Gate, a Brutalist office block in Westminster designed by Sir Basil Spence, close to St James's Park tube station. Many functions, however, were devolved to offices in other parts of London, and the country, notably the headquarters of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate in Croydon.
In 2005, the Home Office moved to a new main office designed by Sir Terry Farrell at 2 Marsham Street, Westminster, on the site of the demolished Marsham Towers building of the Department of the Environment.
For external shots of its fictional Home Office, the TV series Spooks uses an aerial shot of the Government Offices Great George Street instead, serving as stand-in to match the distinctly less modern appearance of the fictitious accommodation interiors the series uses.
To meet the UK's five-year science and technology strategy, the Home Office sponsors research in police sciences, including:
Most front-line law and order policy areas, such as policing and criminal justice, are devolved in Scotland and Northern Ireland (and only very partially in Wales), but the following reserved and excepted matters are handled by Westminster.
The Scottish Government Justice and Communities Directorates are responsible for devolved justice and home affairs policy.
The following matters were not transferred at the devolution of policing and justice on 12 April 2010, and remain reserved:
The Home Office's main counterparts in Northern Ireland are:
The Department of Justice is accountable to the Northern Ireland Executive, whereas the Northern Ireland Office is a UK Government department.
In March 2019, it was reported that in two unrelated cases, the Home Office denied asylum to converted Christians by misrepresenting certain Bible quotes. In one case, it quoted selected excerpts from the Bible to imply that Christianity is not more peaceful than Islam, the religion the asylum-seeker converted from. In another incident, an Iranian Christian application for asylum was rejected because her faith was judged as "half-hearted", for she did not believe that Jesus could protect her from the Iranian regime. As outrage grew on social media, the Home Office distanced itself from the decision, though it confirmed the letter was authentic. The Home Secretary said that it was "totally unacceptable" for his department to quote the Bible to question an Iranian Christian convert's asylum application, and ordered an urgent investigation into what had happened.
The treatment of Christian asylum seekers chimes with other incidents in the past, such as the refusal to grant visas to the Archbishop of Mosul to attend the consecration of the UK's first Syriac Orthodox Cathedral.[better source needed] In a 2017 study, the Christian Barnabas Fund found that only 0.2% of all Syrian refugees accepted by the UK were Christians, although Christians accounted for approximately 10% of Syria's pre-war population.
In 2019, the Home Office admitted to multiple breaches of data protection regulations in the handling of its Windrush compensation scheme. The department sent emails to Windrush migrants which revealed the email address of other Windrush migrants to whom the email was sent. The data breach concerned five different emails, each of which was sent to 100 recipients. In April 2019, the Home Office admitted to revealing 240 personal email addresses of EU citizens applying for settled status in the UK. The email addresses of applicants were incorrectly sent to other applicants to the scheme. In response to these incidents, the Home Office pledged to launch an independent review of its data protection compliance.
In 2019, the Court of Appeal issued a judgement which criticised the Home Office's handling of immigration cases. The judges stated that the "general approach [by the home secretary, Sajid Javid] in all earnings discrepancy cases [has been] legally flawed". The judgement relates to the Home Office's interpretation of Section 322(5) of the Immigration Rules.
In November 2020, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, a statutory body that investigates breaches of the Equality Act 2010 published a report concluding that the Home Office had a "lack of organisation-wide commitment, including by senior leadership, to the importance of equality and the Home Office's obligations under the equality duty placed on government departments". The report noted that the Home Office's pursuit of the "hostile environment" policy from 2012 onwards "accelerated the impact of decades of complex policy and practice based on a history of white and black immigrants being treated differently". Caroline Waters, the interim chair of the EHRC, described the treatment of Windrush immigrants by the Home Office as a "shameful stain on British history".
The Home Office has also been criticised[by whom?] for rejecting many asylum claims from LGBT people.
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The House of Commons appoints the Committee with the task of examining the expenditure, administration, and policy of the Home Office and its associated public bodies.