Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

Activists slam new Home Office "Go Home" poster campaign

The Home Office has come under fire again for placing posters encouraging immigrants to "ask about going home" at immigration reporting centres.

The posters have been displayed at centres in Hounslow and Glasgow and have been branded "shameful" by campaigners and Scottish MP's, according to a report in The Guardian.

The centres provide advice to people seeking asylum in Britain and immigrants with other visa issues.

One poster displayed at the centre in Glasgow states: "Is life here hard?  Going home is simple" while another notice, pinned to the back of chairs in the waiting area, says, "Ask about going home".

An aeroplane-shaped poster suspended from the ceiling says, “Let us help you go home.”

Positive Action in Housing, a Glasgow-based charity which works with asylum seekers, said the posters were “shameful and deeply offensive”.

Sandra White, the Scottish National Party MSP for Glasgow and a member of the Scottish parliament's cross-party group on asylum seekers told the Guardian, “Very many asylum seekers are fleeing for their lives, escaping violence and persecution.

“To be greeted with posters urging them to return to the countries they have just fled is totally inappropriate and appalling.

“In my view the campaign borders on the racist. The posters are in an area where most people who go there are African or Asian and to my mind they are there to put fear into people.”

Ms White added that the posters should be removed “as soon as possible”.

James Dornan, another member of the Scottish Parliament said, “I am writing to (Home Secretary) Theresa May to find out if she thinks this type of manipulative messaging to people in very difficult situations is appropriate or not. Did she authorise this campaign? And if not, does she approve of it? And will she commit to ending the use of this inflammatory language immediately?

“There is no room for this type of abhorrent xenophobic campaign which will only serve to make already vulnerable people feel unwelcome and fans the flames of racial bigotry.

A Home Office spokeswoman told the BBC that the posters were part of a campaign aimed at highlighting the range of help and advice available to those not eligible to stay in Britain to return home voluntarily.

The spokeswoman said this was more cost-effective and less traumatic than forced removals.

"Those with no right to remain in the UK should leave voluntarily. These posters are designed to ensure people know that we can provide sensitive advice and assistance to help them return home with dignity.

This row follows another Home Office publicity campaign which used vans driven across six London boroughs displaying the slogan, “In the UK illegally? Go home or face arrest.”

Ministers were threatened with legal action from clients of migrant community groups who claimed that the rhetoric on the posters breached the government’s duties under equality legislation.



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