The “go home or face arrest” campaign has been widely criticised. The Home Office was forced to defend the week long £10,000 campaign in six London boroughs which we commented on last week.
However, on Monday this week the prime minister`s spokesman had commented that the pilot was working on the basis of voluntarily leaving being more cost-effective than arresting immigrants and forcibly removing them.
The vans are no longer operating, with the Home Office now going on to review the responses to the number that migrants were being asked to text. A spokesman confirmed their view that “this is already working. Clearly, we will want to look at that in more detail and see how we take this forward." However, no evidence was forthcoming for the basis of the alleged success of the campaign and justification, if any, to see this rolled out more widely.
A spokesperson did comment on the costs, stating "if one individual were to take up the voluntary return scheme, that would cover the cost of the pilot compared to the cost of an enforced return". An enforced removal costs on average £15,000 and he said in comparison a voluntary return costs on average £739.
The tensions between the Lib Dems and No10 on the best approach to tackle immigration were clear following general feeling that the adverts were distasteful. The Lib Dems were unhappy with claims that they too had signed off the advertising campaign as part of a “Home Office team”.
The general consensus following last week’s pilot is that this is not a constructive approach to and that resources could be better spent, not least in processing applications in a timely manner and trying to address the back log of cases.
Angela Smith, a Labour Home Office spokeswoman seems to have summed it up, stating that the adverts were "a cynical stunt and stupid politics to hide government failures on the basics".