2 Marsham Street, the headquarters of the Home Office
|Formed||27 March 1782|
|Jurisdiction||United Kingdom (but in respect of most policing and justice matters: England and Wales only)|
|Headquarters||2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF|
|Annual budget||£10.8 billion (current) and £500 million (capital) in 2018-19|
The Home Office (HO) is a ministerial department of Her Majesty's Government of the United Kingdom, responsible for immigration, security and law and order. As such it is responsible for policing in England and Wales, fire and rescue services in England, and visas and immigration and the Security Service (MI5). It is also in charge of government policy on security-related issues such as drugs, counter-terrorism and ID cards. It was formerly responsible for Her Majesty's Prison Service and the National Probation Service, but these have been transferred to the Ministry of Justice. The Cabinet minister responsible for the department is the Home Secretary.
The Home Office continues to be known, especially in official papers and when referred to in Parliament, as the Home Department.
As of October 2014, the Home Office comprises the following organisations:
The Home Office Ministers are as follows:
|The Rt Hon. Priti Patel MP||Secretary of State||Overall responsibility for the work of the department; including security and terrorism; legislative programme; expenditure issues.|
|The Rt Hon. Brandon Lewis MP||Minister of State||Implementing the strategic defence and security review; counter-terrorism; investigatory powers; communications data legislation; communications capabilities development; security industry engagement; single infrastructure policing; aviation security; firearms; chemical biological radiological nuclear defence (CBRNE) and science and technology programme management; small and medium enterprises; serious and organised crime strategy; criminal finance and asset recovery; cyber crime and security; National Crime Agency oversight; UK anti-corruption policy; better regulation; animal testing.|
|Kit Malthouse MP||Minister of State||Police finance and resourcing; police reform and governance; police representative groups; police pay and pensions; police workforce; Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC); Policing and Crime Bill; police integrity and transparency; emergency services collaboration; crime statistics; national fire policy; Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser; national resilience and fire programmes; localism and reform; workforce pay; pensions and industrial relations; extradition; mutual legal assistance; EU criminal justice; Interpol; foreign criminality.|
|The Baroness Williams of Trafford||Minister of State for Countering Extremism||All Home Office business in the House of Lords; countering extremism; hate crime; integration; devolution; data strategy; identity and biometrics; Better Regulation; animals in science.|
|Victoria Atkins MP||Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding, and Vulnerability||Disclosure and Barring Service; drugs; alcohol; countering extremism; hate crime; crime prevention; anti-social behaviour; gangs, youth crime and youth violence; knife crime; wildlife crime; child sexual exploitation and abuse; online child sexual exploitation; mental health; modern slavery; honour-based violence; female genital mutilation (FGM); violence against women and girls; missing people and children; sexual violence; prostitution and lap dancing; domestic violence.|
|Seema Kennedy MP||Parliamentary Under Secretary of State||Immigration and border policy; foreign national offenders; resettlement policy; implementation of the Immigration Act 2016; UK Visas and Immigration; immigration enforcement; Border Force; Her Majesty's Passport Office; Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration; Home Office immigration transparency data; net migration statistics.|
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The Department outlined its aims for this Parliament in its Business Plan, which was published in May 2011 and superseded its Structural Reform Plan. The plan said the department will:
The Home Office publishes progress against the plan on the 10 Downing Street website.
On 27 March 1782, the Home Office was formed by renaming the existing Southern Department, with all existing staff transferring. On the same day, the Northern Department was renamed the Foreign Office.
To match the new names, there was a transferring of responsibilities between the two Departments of State. All domestic responsibilities were moved to the Home Office, and all foreign matters became the concern of the Foreign Office.
Most subsequently created domestic departments (excluding, for instance, those dealing with education) have been formed by splitting responsibilities away from the Home Office.
The initial responsibilities were:
Responsibilities were subsequently changed over the years that followed:
The Home Office retains a variety of functions that have not found a home elsewhere, and sit oddly with the main law-and-order focus of the department, such as regulation of British Summer Time.
On 7 April 2012, hacktivist group Anonymous temporarily took down the UK Home Office website. The group took responsibility for the attack, which was part of ongoing Anonymous activity in protest against the deportation of hackers as part of Operation TrialAtHome. One Anonymous source claimed in their tweet it was also launched in retaliation for "draconian surveillance proposals".
On 18 July 2012, the Public and Commercial Services Union announced that thousands of Home Office employees would go on strike over jobs, pay and other issues. However, the PCSU called off the strike before it was planned it claimed the department had, subsequent to the threat of actions, announced 1,100 new border jobs.
On 15 August 2019, a civil servant for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, based in the Home Office building, was stabbed outside the building, going inside for help. His injuries were not life threatening.
Until 1978, the Home Office had its offices in what is now the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Main Building on King Charles Street, off Whitehall. From 1978 to 2004, the Home Office was located at 50 Queen Anne's Gate, a Brutalist office block in Westminster designed by Sir Basil Spence, close to St. James's Park tube station. Many functions, however, were devolved to offices in other parts of London and the country, notably the headquarters of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate in Croydon.
In 2005, the Home Office moved to a new main office designed by Sir Terry Farrell at 2 Marsham Street, Westminster, on the site of the demolished Marsham Towers building of the Department of the Environment.
For external shots of its fictional Home Office, the TV series Spooks uses an aerial shot of the Government Offices Great George Street instead, serving as stand-in to match the distinctly less modern appearance of the fictitious accommodation interiors the series uses.
Most front-line law and order policy areas, such as policing and criminal justice, are devolved in Scotland and Northern Ireland but the following reserved and excepted matters are handled by Westminster.
The Scottish Government Justice and Communities Directorates are responsible for devolved justice and home affairs policy.
The following matters were not transferred at the devolution of policing and justice on 12 April 2010 and remain reserved:
The Home Office's main counterparts in Northern Ireland are:
Under the Welsh devolution settlement, specific policy areas are transferred to the National Assembly for Wales rather than reserved to Westminster.
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In March 2019, it was reported that in two unrelated cases the Home Office denied asylum to converted Christians by misrepresenting certain Bible quotes. In one case it quoted selected excerpts from the Bible to imply that Christianity is not more peaceful than Islam, the religion the asylum-seeker converted from. In another incident, an Iranian Christian application for asylum was rejected because her faith was judged as "half-hearted", for she did not believe that Jesus could protect her from the Iranian regime. As outrage grew on social media, the Home Office distanced itself from the decision, though it confirmed the letter was authentic. The Home Secretary admitted that it was "totally unacceptable" for his department to quote the Bible to question an Iranian Christian convert's asylum application, and ordered an urgent investigation into what had happened.
The treatment of Christian asylum seekers chimes with other incidents in the past, like the refusal to grant visas to the Archbishop of Mosul to attend the consecration of the UK's first Syriac Orthodox Cathedral. In a 2017 study, the Christian Barnabas Fund found that only 0.2% of all Syrian refugees accepted by the UK were Christians, although Christians accounted for approximately 10% of Syria's prewar population.
In 2019, the Home Office admitted to multiple breaches of data protection regulations in the handling of its Windrush compensation scheme. The department sent emails to Windrush migrants which revealed the email address of other Windrush migrants to whom the email was sent. The data breach concerned five different emails, each of which was sent to 100 recipients. In April 2019, the Home Office admitted to revealing 240 personal email addresses of EU citizens applying for settled status in the UK. The email addresses of applicants were incorrectly sent to other applicants to the scheme. In response to these incidents, the Home Office pledged to launch an independent review of its data protection compliance.
In 2019, the Court of Appeal issued a judgement which criticized the Home Office's handling of immigration cases. The judges stated that the "general approach [by the home secretary, Sajid Javid] in all earnings discrepancy cases [has been] legally flawed". The judgement relates to the Home Office's interpretation of Section 322(5) of the Immigration Rules.