Following his call for evidence in 2019/2020, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration’s report on his inspection of the Home Office Presenting Officer function has been published. You can access the report here as well as the Home Office’s response here.
Chambers’ immigration team submitted a response to the call for evidence, which you can access here. The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association’s response was also covered by May Bulman of the Independent here.
In his report, the Chief Inspector, David Bolt, confirms that his team found little evidence of an overall strategy or structure to the Home Office’s engagement with its external stakeholders. Engagement was irregular and lacked clear objectives. It was also stated that better training and more stringent and transparent professional standards are important, and the Home Office should be looking to make improvements in these areas, but these will not affect the other key concern raised repeatedly with inspectors, which is that Home Office Presenting Officers (POs) have too little time to prepare before an appeal hearing. The Chief Inspector records that this was the view of POs themselves (excluding some long-serving POs who were comfortable with their workload), of several ALAR managers, and of stakeholders, including the Presidents of the Immigration and Asylum Chambers of the FtT and UT.
The report concludes that “although the Home Office is making efforts to improve the PO function and the wider appeals process, there is more that it could be doing to professionalise POs, to connect up its processes, and to position itself with its key external stakeholders.”