'More than a year has passed since the UK Border Agency awarded a four-year, £30m contract to a private firm, Capita, to track down immigrants who have overstayed their visas in the UK. Hiring a private firm for a task that is normally the responsibility of the state did not escape criticism. “We are appalled the Government has offered a contract of this size to a private company,” Ruth Grove-White, policy director at the Migrants Rights Network, told The Independent.
The Border Agency calculated at the time that there were 174,000 immigrants who had overstayed. If Capita could find them, it would be a solid sign of the Government being tough on illegal immigration. Capita tried hard. It sent 39,100 text messages telling recipients that they had to leave as they no longer have the right to remain. The texts set off an avalanche of complaints, including those from people who had lived in the UK legally for years.
So how successful has Capita been, overall? Yesterday, while minds were focused on the Autumn Statement, the Home Office posted online the reply to a Freedom of Information request, which revealed that, after 14 months, the Capita contract had caused 4,160 people to depart these shores. So only about another 170,000 to go.
The good news is that the contract specified that Capita will be paid by results, which must have saved a pile of money.'