THE Home Office is to suspend immigration checks on thousands of bank accounts following the Windrush scandal. The department is contacting banks and building societies to instruct them to reduce the scope of the investigations. Since January, banks have been required to conduct quarterly checks on 70 million UK current accounts. If an account is suspected of being used by an illegal immigrant, the Home Office reviews it before instructing the bank to act including shutting it down. The Home Office said it did not publish data on the number of bank accounts already closed under the measures. It comes after home secretary Sajid Javid said his officials had written to banks to flag thousands of accounts believed to be held by illegal immigrants. But the problems highlighted by the Windrush scandal – of individuals being wrongly identified as illegal immigrants and having access to services and work denied – have raised doubts over the reliability of the checks. A Home Office spokeswoman said the checks had been suspended temporarily. “It is vital that the compliant environment protects vulnerable people and appropriate safeguards are built into the measures,” she said.
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