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British police forces 'handing crime victims to Home Office as immigration suspects'

MORE than half of Britain’s police forces are turning victims of crime over to the Home Office for alleged immigration offences, figures published today reveal.

Just three of Britain’s 45 police forces confirmed they adhered to guidance issued by the National Police Chiefs’ Council in December which requires forces to treat those reporting a crime “as victims first and foremost.”

The guidance states that victims should not be arrested for potential immigration offences unless there is “an immediate risk of harm to a specific individual or a wider group.”

However, 27 forces admitted they did refer victims of and witnesses to crimes to the Home Office for immigration enforcement in response to Freedom of Information requests by the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire Show.

The BBC spoke to Sara, a woman who was arrested by police and held in the notorious Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre after her abusive British citizen partner was arrested for assault.

Her solicitor Sulaiha Ali said that Sara wanted to enter Britain legally but “her trafficker made sure that he brought her in illegally so that she couldn’t go to the police because she would get arrested.”

Ms Ali said that was “exactly what’s happened in her case” and reflected “a common feature in all domestic violence and trafficking cases.”

Sara told the BBC: “I was treated like a slave. He told me: ‘That’s why I brought you here, so you can cook and clean for me and get beaten by me’.”

When she tried to escape, her partner “beat her up in front of a member of the public who then called the police,” Ms Ali said.

He was arrested while Sara was taken to hospital “because of the severity of her injuries,” but Ms Ali said that, “despite disclosing what she had been through, she was told that she was here illegally and so she was being arrested.”

Ms Ali said: “It is shocking to know that victims of crime are being seen and treated as criminals just because of their status.

“I think it is something that we are coming across routinely now and it is as a result of Theresa May’s hostile environment policy that has been brought into effect by the Immigration Act.”

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