Immigration officers accused of intimidating train passengers at Kensal Green station
PUBLISHED: 14:32 30 July 2013 | UPDATED: 15:00 30 July 2013
Witnesses claim heavy handed tactics took place during operation in Brent
Immigration chiefs have been accused of using ‘heavy handed’ and ‘intimidating’ tactics during an operation carried out in the borough today.
The criticism comes after officers stopped and questioned passengers at Kensal Green station to target illegal immigrants.
However, according to several witnesses the officers were aggressive, intimidating and were specifically targeting non-white individuals.
Kensal Rise resident Phil O’Shea told the Times he was threatened with arrest when he asked what was going on.
He said: “I thought the behaviour of the immigration officers was heavy-handed and frightening. They appeared to be stopping and questioning every non-white person, many of whom were clearly ordinary Kensal Green residents going to work.
“When I queried what was going on I was threatened with arrest for obstruction and was told to ‘crack on’.
“I asked that officer for his name but he refused to give it and said I could read his number on his shoulder but I couldn’t see a number there.”
Matthew Kelcher, who lives in All Souls Avenue, also witnessed the operation, he said: “They said they were doing random checks but a lot of people who use that station are tourists so I don’t know what message this sends out to the world.
“They seemed to be picking out foreign people in an intimidating situation.
“Kensal Green is a diverse community but a settled one and they are going about it on the wrong approach.
“This is more about publicity than dealing about the issue.”
Last week, the Home Office rolled out a controversial campaign where billboards warning illegal immigrants to ‘go home or face arrest’ would be driven around Brent and five other boroughs in London.
Cllr Mohammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, accused the government of being heavy handed.
He said: “The use of the vans last week was bad enough but to target Brent again with heavy handed tactics so soon just shows that the government is not concerned about its ill-judged divisive and intimidating methods.
“This is just going to destabilise communities and just shows that the government does not have faith in its own system of border controls and is trying to pin the blame elsewhere.
“The government should have consulted with the council so that we would have had the opportunity to put forward our concerns about the negative messages and impact that such campaigns would have on the great majority of people living and working together in Brent.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “We make no apology for enforcing our immigration laws and our officers carry out hundreds of operations every year around London. Where we find people who are in the UK illegally we will seek to remove them.
“We take any allegations of inappropriate behaviour from our officers very seriously and operate a comprehensive complaints and investigation process for where detainees or members of the public believe they have been mistreated.”
He added that a Ukrainian women, aged 33, and Indian man, aged 44, were both found to have entered the country illegally and a 59-year-old Brazilian woman had overstayed her visa.
All three had been arrested. The two women will be deported and the man has been placed in immigration bail if he is found to an illegal immigrant he will also be deported.