The latest statistics on 2013 arrests of suspected illegal immigrants in the UK have been released and the Labour Party’s shadow minister for immigration has been very vocal on what he is terming a “shocking record”. Stating that the statistics show figures that the UK government “should be ashamed of”, shadow immigration minister David Hanson spoke out in criticism of the Coalition government’s policies on immigration, and their seeming lack of acknowledgement of the recent statistics in the lead up to the coming EU elections in May.

The figures show that 4,535 people were arrested in relation to illegal immigration during 2013. Of that number, only 1,585 (or a third) of them were deported and there were a meager 15 resulting prosecutions. Mr Hanson has spoken out against the current government due to a belief that they are failing to address the issue and put measures in place to make the immigration system in the UK more effective.

In answer to Mr Hanson’s criticism, the Coalition government have blasted the pre-2010 Labour government and blamed them for the current illegal immigration issues the UK is facing, stating that they were left with a “shambolic” system that simply didn’t work or address the problem in the first place. Frequently accused of adopting an ‘open door policy’ on immigration prior to the Coalition government being elected, polls have shown that the UK population consistently deems the Labour party untrustworthy on matters relating to immigration.

Blaming ‘legal barriers’ for the lack of deportations and prosecutions of suspected offenders in 2013, a spokesperson for the government did not make any comment when asked about the promises surrounding immigration that were made by David Cameron prior to being elected. Mr Cameron had pledged to cut overall immigration figures to below 100,000 per year, less that half the standing number at the time of his election. As it stands, UK immigration figures have risen in the past year by 60,000 and are expected to reach the same number as 2010 (around 250,000 per year) by the start of 2015.

With the elections looming, both major political parties are vying to take a stance on immigration as it has been deemed one of the most talked about issues in British politics. This is despite polls consistently showing that the majority of the British public greatly overestimates the levels of immigration, with many considering it an issue without knowing the actual figures.

Mr Hanson’s criticisms come hot on the heels of the recent speech by shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper in which she criticised the government for failing to differentiate between immigrants that were beneficial to the economy and those who aren’t. With imminent changes to the Tier 1 (investor) visa criteria on the horizon this month, as we recently reported in our article, Tier 1 Investor visas – Major changes set for April 2014, both parties are seemingly willing to encourage immigration if the applicants can provide value to the UK economy, but are pledging to crack down on other immigration categories.

If you are worried that you may be in the UK illegally and you are looking to legalise your status, then get in touch with the Immigration Advice Service today to speak directly to one of our dedicated immigration lawyers.