Human rights group Liberty has hit back at the government's scheme to encourage overstaying migrants to "go home" with its own alternative spin on the message. Home Office ads were carried by vans in six London boroughs.
Illegal immigrants are being encouraged to volunteer to return home, under a new pilot scheme.
Posters will show residents how many arrests have been made, and display a text message so that migrants can contact authorities. But, if they fail to come forward, the softly-softly approach will be backed up by police raids, as Phil Bayles reports:
Paul Wylie, head of Home Office immigration enforcement in London has said they are arresting more and more illegal immigrants every day as part of a new Home Office scheme urging immigrants to voluntarily leave the UK.
Immigration minister Mark Harper has said that a new scheme in which illegal immigrants can voluntarily come forward, would help to prevent unlawful working and reduce the burden on public services caused by illegal migration. Mr Harper said:
We are making it more difficult for people to live and work in the UK illegally.
But there is an alternative to being led away in handcuffs. Help and advice can be provided to those who cooperate and return home voluntarily.
A phone number offering help – including potential free flights and other travel assistance – will be shown on van advertisements, as part of a new scheme targeted at illegal immigrants living in London.
The Home Office has said those who come forward voluntarily will not be detained while they arrange their departure.
The use of the advertising vans, which will be deployed initially to six London boroughs including Ealing, Barnet and Hounslow, forms the latest stage in a renewed Home Office drive against illegal migrants in recent months.
Large billboards and signposts carrying the warning "Go home or face arrest" will be driven around London on the back on advertising vans this week in a new Home Office bid to reduce illegal immigration.
The billboards will also display the number of illegal migrants arrested recently in the relevant part of the capital.
Adverts and leaflets are being distributed in East and West London to encourage illegal immigrants to leave voluntarily under a new government campaign. Immigration officers are targeting specific groups. The ads warn people here illegally risk arrest and deportation.