"Damning" Report Catalogues Institutional Racism And Failings At The Heart Of The Windrush Scandal

"Damning" Report Catalogues Institutional Racism And Failings At The Heart Of The Windrush Scandal

March 19, 2020

The findings of a report into the laundry list of failings at the heart of the Windrush scandal has today been published by the government, detailing a number of examples of institutional racism, as well as the catastrophic, and in some cases fatal, knock-on effects.

The Windrush Lessons Learned review was first commissioned by Sajid Javid in 2018, but the government's efforts to right the many wrongs inflicted on the Windrush generation have been dogged by criticisms of its own, not least that one of the charities set up to pay victims was defunded mere days after the Home Office announced it had set aside £200 million in compensation. To date, only £62,198 of compensation had been shared out between just 36 people.

The many accusations in the 275-page report, authored by inspector of constabulary Wendy Williams, include British citizens being wrongly deported, losing their jobs, having benefits taken away, being denied services such as NHS care, and that there was a "culture of disbelief and carelessness" in the Home Office. The report describes this actions as being "consistent with some elements of the definition of institutional racism" as well as a "really hostile environment for illegal migration," created by then home secretary Theresa May.

The report also traced the issue as far back as the 1960s when draconian immigration laws were introduced to the detriment of the Windrush generation. It adds that the problem was "forseeable and avoidable", but says that ministers and officials ignored the warning signs.

Williams, who spoke to over 800 victims in conversations she described as tragic and upsetting, said of the report: "The Windrush generation has been poorly served by this country, a country to which they contributed so much and in which they had every right to make their lives. The many stories of injustice and hardships are heartbreaking, with jobs lost, lives uprooted and untold damage done to so many individuals and families."

The report also urged that ministers owed "an unqualified apology to those affected and to the wider Afro-Caribbean community."

Earlier today, home secretary Priti Patel gave an official apology in the House of Commons, saying: "There is nothing I can say today that will undo the suffering ... On behalf of this and successive governments I am truly sorry." However, she has been accused by activists of attempting to bury the news in the midst of the ever-worsening Coronavirus pandemic.

In spite of the report and the home secretary's apology in Parliament, it has been noted that deportation flights were resumed last month on the basis that those to be deported had committed "serious offences". It also noted that "five people previously deported to Jamaica were killed shortly after their arrival."

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott commented: "The verdict that there are elements of institutional racism at the Home Office is damning, and means there must be a root and branch overhaul and change of culture."

You can read the full report here.

Words: James Keith