22 June, 2022 - By West London Welcome Community

Electronic tagging is dehumanising and must be stopped

The directors, Board and wider community of West London Welcome stand against the Home Office’s practice of electronically tagging people.

Electronically tagging people is dehumanising and incredibly intrusive. The Home Office has already introduced the electronic monitoring of people on immigration bail using GPS tags, and we are aware that electronic tagging could affect newly-arriving asylum-seeking people coming by boat and lorry, including those currently in detention who were nearly sent to Rwanda last week before the flight was stopped.

The Home Office’s basis for tagging newly-arriving asylum-seeking people appears to be to treat as criminals those they deem are ‘illegally’ entering the country. But under the Refugee Convention, anyone has a right to claim asylum, and nobody is ‘illegal’ for coming to the UK to do so, regardless of the route they took here.

The Prime Minister has defended the plans on the basis of a necessity to stop people absconding, saying it is important that people entering this country did not “vanish from the system”. However, such an approach lacks any evidential basis. A recent Freedom of Information Act response to a request by Brian Dikoff of Migrants Organise found that of more than 7,000 people granted immigration bail between February 2020 and March 2021, just 43 people absconded – less than 0.56%.

Beyond the inhumanity of electronic tagging of people seeking sanctuary, the practice is illogical, disproportionate and represents yet another attempt by the government to enforce a biased approach against those seeking asylum, wasting millions in taxpayers’ money in the process. As Privacy International has reported, these GPS tags enable highly intrusive 24/7 monitoring and livetracking of people’s locations, for no good reason. Privacy International has pointed out that this tracking goes far beyond what is necessary to prevent people absconding, and that absconding isn’t even an issue.

People must be treated with dignity and humanity when arriving on UK shores, not dehumanised and criminalised, and we must all stand against this harmful and immoral practice.

You can read more about the harmful effects of electronic tagging on the Privacy International website here.