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Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

Home Office accused of "Racial Profiling" as non-whites are "Stopped and Asked for Papers"


After the £3000 bond for South Asian visitors to the UK and the "nasty" "Go Home or Be Arrested" poster van immigration authorities are today accused of "racial profiling" after "aggressive" and "intimidating" behaviour by Border Agency staff at a Tube station in North London.

Officers were seen stopping and questioning passengers at Kensal Green station early this morning, with witnessing telling the Kilburn Times that non-white individuals were being specifically targeted.

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.”

Another white resident was told by officers that they were doing "random checks". 

Matthew Kelcher, however, told the Times: 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 began a campaign in London where billboards attached to roaming vans warned illegal immigrants to "go home or face arrest" and asking residents to call the Home Office if they had information about undocumented immigrants.

Politicians from all parties however, have branded the campaign "nasty" and "insensitive".

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.”

On Friday, the leader of Unite, the largest trade union in the country, said it was seeking legal advice about whether the vans were "inciting racial hatred".

Its leader, Len McCluskey, called the poster-covered vehicles "vans of hate".

The enforcement at Kensal Green station is part of a wider nationwide campaign targeting illegal immigrants. 

Raids in London, Durham, Manchester, Wales and Somerset have reportedly led to 139 arrests of suspected immigration offenders.

The campaigns however have been widely condemned.

Comedian David Schneider tweeted: "I'm enjoying @ukhomeoffice's tweeting of the preliminary rounds of the UK Hunger Games." 

Guardian columnist Charlie Brooker added: "Hey @ukhomeoffice why not make your tweet-a-long-a-stormtroop gallery of brown folk thrown in vans even more dystopian by using cattleprods?"

Mirror columnist Susie Boniface aka Fleet Street Fox tweeted: "If we all reported @ukhomeoffice as spam they can't deport us. DO IT. At least I don't think they could deport us. They'd probably try. Especially if we looked a bit tanned."

Concerns have also been raised that the immigration enforcement is violating "fundamental freedoms". 

The Labour MP for Brent North borough in London, Barry Gardiner, has reportedly written to Home Secretary Theresa May, demanding an investigation into the raids.

In the letter, Mr Gardiner says: ''We do not yet live in a society where the police or any other officers of the law are entitled to detain people without reasonable justification and demand their papers.''

Mr Gardiner adds. ''The actions of your department would however appear to be hastening us in that direction.''

Dave Garratt, the chief executive of charity Refugee Action, warned that the operations could ''incite racial tensions''.

''Over the last few weeks we've seen some very visible signs of the Government's 'hostile environment' crusade. There have been vans out on the streets with threatening slogans and, reportedly, non-white people being visibly stopped and searched,'' he wrote.

''The Home Office is responsible for community cohesion. Yet we are increasingly seeing what appears to be hostility towards non-white immigration, which will do nothing but incite racial tensions and divisions within otherwise rich and diverse communities.''

A Home Office spokesman defended the tactics: ''We make no apology for enforcing our immigration laws and our officers carry out hundreds of operations like this every year around London. Where we find people who are in the UK illegally we will seek to remove them.

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