Home Office
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Home Office

Home Office
Home Office.svg
Marsham Street.jpg
2 Marsham Street, the headquarters of the Home Office
Department overview
Formed27 March 1782; 239 years ago (1782-03-27)
Preceding Department
JurisdictionUnited Kingdom (but in respect of most policing and justice matters: England and Wales only)
Headquarters2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF
Annual budget£10.8 billion (current) and £500 million (capital) in 2018-19[1]
Minister responsible
Department executive
Websitewww.gov.uk/government/organisations/home-office Edit this at Wikidata
A Home Office Immigration Enforcement vehicle in north London.

The Home Office (HO), also known (especially in official papers and when referred to in Parliament) as the Home Department,[2] is a ministerial department of the 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, 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, a post considered one of the Great Offices of State; it has been held since July 2019 by Priti Patel.


The Home Office is headed by the home secretary, a Cabinet minister supported by the department's senior civil servant, the permanent secretary.

As of October 2014, the Home Office comprises the following organisations:[3]

Non-ministerial government departments

Inspectorates / accountability


Non-departmental public bodies


A number of functions of the National Policing Improvement Agency were transferred to the Home Office in October 2012, ahead of the future abolition of the agency.[4]

These included:

Home Office ministers

The Home Office ministers are as follows:[5]

Minister title portfolio
The Rt Hon Priti Patel MP Secretary of State Overall responsibility for the work of the department; overarching responsibility for the departmental portfolio and oversight of the ministerial team; cabinet; National Security Council (NSC); public appointments.
The Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP Minister of State for Security Counter terrorism - prepare, prevent, pursue, protect; serious and organised crime; cybercrime; economic crime; hostile state activity; royal and VIP protection; online harms; Common Travel Area; aviation and maritime security; Commons lead on transition period (named EU Exit Operations board deputy); fire; Grenfell; flooding/hurricane/natural disaster relief; ensuring COVID-19 regulations continue to consider security (crowded places, insider threat, data retention extension); oversight of fraud during COVID-19. MI5 Oversight.
Kit Malthouse MP Minister of State for Crime & Policing Policing; crime; county lines; criminal justice system; acquisitive crime; public protection and protests; undercover policing; Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS); police technology; police powers; facial recognition; major events; football policing; reoffending; unauthorised encampments; firearms; serious violence; drugs and alcohol.
The Baroness Williams of Trafford Minister of State for Countering Extremism All Home Office business in the House of Lords; overall corporate lead including Spending Review and Budget; data and identity; enablers; digital and technology including the emergency services network; public appointments; sponsorship unit; countering extremism; hate crime; forensic science and DNA.
The Lord Greenhalgh Minister of State for Building Safety and Communities
(Jointly with MoHC&LG)
Building Safety Programme; Grenfell recovery and public inquiry; Resilience and Emergencies Minister, including transformation and non-Covid/Transition winter response (e.g. flooding); Leasehold and freehold abuses; faith and communities; Holocaust Memorial.
Victoria Atkins MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Safeguarding Modern slavery and the national referral mechanism; domestic abuse; violence against women and girls including female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage; early youth intervention on serious violence; Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS); victims; child sexual abuse and exploitation; Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse; Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority; sexual violence including the rape review; anti-social behaviour; prostitution; stalking; online internet safety/WeProtect; victims of terrorism; Security Industry Authority.
Kevin Foster MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Immigration and Future Borders Design and implementation of a) the UK's points-based system, b) digital and secure borders including Electronic Travel Authorities; counting in and counting out; current and future visa system including fees; global visa operations; net migration; immigration rules; immigration system simplification; exit checks; Immigration Bill; EU Settlement Scheme; immigration casework; sponsorship of UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), Her Majesty's Passport Office (HMPO) and Borders, Immigration and Citizenship System (BICS) policy directorates; border health measures (cross-government policy, DfT lead)
Chris Philp MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Immigration Compliance and Courts
(Jointly with MoJ)
Compliance environment; detention; returns; foreign; national offenders; illegal immigration strategy; overseas development aid; Immigration Enforcement; asylum; resettlement; casework; nationality; animals (illegal wildlife trade); sponsorship of Border Force and Immigration Enforcement directorates.


The Department outlined its aims for this Parliament in its Business Plan, which was published in May 2011, and superseded its Structural Reform Plan.[6] The plan said the department will:

1. Empower the public to hold the police to account for their role in cutting crime
2. Free up the police to fight crime more effectively and efficiently
  • Cut police bureaucracy, end unnecessary central interference and overhaul police powers in order to cut crime, reduce costs and improve police value for money. Simplify national institutional structures and establish a National Crime Agency to strengthen the fight against organised crime (and replace the Serious Organised Crime Agency).
3. Create a more integrated criminal justice system
  • Help the police and other public services work together across the criminal justice system.
4. Secure our borders and reduce immigration
  • Deliver an improved migration system that commands public confidence and serves our economic interests. Limit non-EU economic migrants, and introduce new measures to reduce inflow and minimise abuse of all migration routes, for example the student route. Process asylum applications more quickly, and end the detention of children for immigration purposes.
5. Protect people's freedoms and civil liberties
  • Reverse state interference to ensure there is not disproportionate intrusion into people's lives.
6. Protect our citizens from terrorism
  • Keep people safe through the Government's approach to counter-terrorism.
7. Build a fairer and more equal society (through the Government Equalities Office)
  • Help create a fair and flexible labour market. Change culture and attitudes. Empower individuals and communities. Improve equality structures, frontline services and support; and help Government Departments and others to consider equality as a matter of course.

The Home Office publishes progress against the plan on the 10 Downing Street website.[7]


On 27 March 1782; 239 years ago (1782-03-27), 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 (including colonies) 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:

  • Answering petitions and addresses sent to the King
  • Advising the King on
  • Issuing instructions on behalf of the King to officers of the Crown, lords-lieutenant and magistrates, mainly concerning law and order
  • Operation of the secret service within the UK
  • Protecting the public
  • Safeguarding the rights and liberties of individuals
  • Colonial matters

Responsibilities were subsequently changed over the years that followed:[8]

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.

Recent incidents

Union action

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.[10] The union called off the strike; it claimed the department had, consequent to the threat of actions, announced 1,100 new border jobs.[11]

Windrush scandal

The first allegations about the unfair targeting of pre-1973 Caribbean migrants started in 2013. In 2018, the allegations were put to the Home Secretary in the House of Commons, and resulted in the resignation of the then Home Secretary. The Windrush scandal resulted in British citizens being wrongly deported, and being refused life critical medical treatment, along with a further compensation scheme for those affected, and a wider debate on the Home Office hostile environment policy.

Aderonke Apata

Aderonke Apata, a Nigerian LGBT activist, made two asylum claims that were both rejected by the Home Office in 2014 and on April 1, 2015 respectively, due to her previously having been in a relationship with a man and having children with that man.[12][13][14][15][16] In 2014, Apata said that she would send an explicit video of herself to the Home Office to prove her sexuality.[12] This resulted in her asylum bid gaining widespread support, with multiple petitions created in response, which gained hundreds of thousands of signatures combined.[14]

On August 8, 2017, after a thirteen-year legal battle and after a new appeal from Apata was scheduled for late July, she was granted refugee status in the United Kingdom by the Home Office.[17]

The former Home Office building at 50 Queen Anne's Gate, London
Lunar House in Croydon, which holds the headquarters of UK Visas and Immigration


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 then 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.[18]

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.[19]


To meet the UK's five-year science and technology strategy,[20] the Home Office sponsors research in police sciences, including:

  • Biometrics - including face and voice recognition
  • Cell type analysis - to determine the origin of cells (e.g. hair, skin)
  • Chemistry - new techniques to recover latent fingerprints
  • DNA - identifying offender characteristics from DNA
  • Improved profiling - of illicit drugs to help identify their source
  • Raman Spectroscopy - to provide more sensitive drugs and explosives detectors (e.g. roadside drug detection)
  • Terahertz imaging methods and technologies - e.g. image analysis and new cameras, to detect crime, enhance images and support anti-terrorism


Most front-line law and order policy areas, such as policing and criminal justice, are devolved in Scotland and Northern Ireland (and only very partially in Wales), but the following reserved and excepted matters are handled by Westminster.


Reserved matters:[21]

The Scottish Government Justice and Communities Directorates are responsible for devolved justice and home affairs policy.

Northern Ireland

Excepted matters:[22]

The following matters were not transferred at the devolution of policing and justice on 12 April 2010, and remain reserved:[23]

The Home Office's main counterparts in Northern Ireland are:

The Department of Justice is accountable to the Northern Ireland Executive, whereas the Northern Ireland Office is a UK Government department.


Reserved matters:


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.[25] 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.[26] As outrage grew on social media, the Home Office distanced itself from the decision, though it confirmed the letter was authentic.[27] 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.[28]

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.[29] 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 pre-war population.[30]

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.[31] 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.[32] In response to these incidents, the Home Office pledged to launch an independent review of its data protection compliance.[33]

In 2019, the Court of Appeal issued a judgement which criticised 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.[34]

In November 2020, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, a statutory body that investigates breaches of the Equality Act 2010 published a report concluding that the Home Office had a "lack of organisation-wide commitment, including by senior leadership, to the importance of equality and the Home Office's obligations under the equality duty placed on government departments". The report noted that the Home Office's pursuit of the "hostile environment" policy from 2012 onwards "accelerated the impact of decades of complex policy and practice based on a history of white and black immigrants being treated differently". Caroline Waters, the interim chair of the EHRC, described the treatment of Windrush immigrants by the Home Office as a "shameful stain on British history".[35]

The Home Office has also been criticized for rejecting many asylum claims from LGBT people.[36]

See also


  1. ^ Budget 2018 (PDF). London: HM Treasury. 2018. pp. 23-24. Retrieved 2019.
  2. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster (9 June 2008). "Hansard - Oral Questions to the Home Department - 9 June 2008". Publications.Parliament.uk. Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 2010.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "Departments, agencies and public bodies - GOV.UK". GOV.uk. Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 2017.
  4. ^ "Where have NPIA products and services moved to?". www.NPIA.police.uk. National Policing Improvement Agency. 2012. Archived from the original on 18 January 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  5. ^ "Our ministers". GOV.UK. Home Office. Retrieved 2019.
  6. ^ "Business Plan". www.HomeOffice.gov.uk. Home Office. Retrieved 2012.
  7. ^ "Business Plan: Home Office". Transparency.Number10.GOV.uk. 10 Downing Street. Retrieved 2012.
  8. ^ "Changes to Home Office responsibilities". Casbah.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 9 July 2011. Retrieved 2010.
  9. ^ Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research. Volumes 23-24. Longmans, Green. 1950. p. 197. |volume= has extra text (help)
  10. ^ "Home Office staff vote to strike over jobs and pay". www.BBC.co.uk. BBC News - British Broadcasting Corporation. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 2013.
  11. ^ "PCS calls off Home Office olympic strike after extra staff are posted in". Union-News.co.uk. Union News. July 2012. Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  12. ^ a b Dugan, Emily (9 June 2014). "Aderonke Apata deportation case: 'If the Home Office doesn't believe I'm gay, I'll send them a video that proves it'". The Independent. Archived from the original on 31 December 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  13. ^ Dunt, Ian (3 March 2015). "Can you prove you're gay? Last minute legal battle for lesbian fighting deportation to Nigeria". Politics.co.uk. Archived from the original on 27 December 2015. Retrieved 2020.
  14. ^ a b Ashton, Jack (14 August 2017). "Nigerian gay rights activist who judge accused of 'faking' her sexuality wins 13-year legal battle for asylum in UK". The Independent. Archived from the original on 31 December 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  15. ^ Dugan, Emily (3 April 2015). "Nigerian gay rights activist has her High Court asylum bid rejected - because judge doesn't believe she is lesbian". The Independent. Archived from the original on 31 December 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  16. ^ Cohen, Claire (4 March 2015). "Home Office tells Nigerian asylum seeker: 'You can't be a lesbian, you've got children'". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 22 April 2015. Retrieved 2020.
  17. ^ Taylor, Diane (12 August 2017). "Nigerian gay rights activist wins UK asylum claim after 13-year battle". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 12 November 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  18. ^ "New Home Office building". www.TerryFarrell.co.uk. Terry Farrell. Archived from the original on 26 September 2006.
  19. ^ "History of 1 Horse Guards Road - GOV.UK". www.GOV.uk. Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 2018.
  20. ^ "Police Science and Technology Strategy: 2004 - 2009" (PDF). www.HomeOffice.gov.uk. Home Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 February 2007. Retrieved 2010.
  21. ^ "Scotland Act 1998, Schedule 5, Part I". www.OPSI.GOV.uk. Retrieved 2010.
  22. ^ "Northern Ireland Act 1998, Schedule 2". www.OPSI.GOV.uk. 4 November 1950. Retrieved 2010.
  23. ^ "Policing and Justice motion, Northern Ireland Assembly, 12 April 2010". www.NIAssembly.gov.uk. Northern Ireland Assembly Information Office. Archived from the original on 16 December 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  24. ^ "About the NIO". www.NIO.GOV.uk. Northern Ireland Office. 12 April 2010. Archived from the original on 17 September 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  25. ^ "Home Office refuses Christian convert asylum by quoting Bible passages that 'prove Christianity is not peaceful'". www.Independent.co.uk. The Independent. 20 March 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  26. ^ "'Illiterate' Home Office quotes Jesus in asylum rejection letter". www.TheTablet.co.uk. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  27. ^ "Rejecting asylum claim, U.K. quotes Bible to say Christianity is not 'peaceful'". The New York Times. 21 March 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  28. ^ "Home Secretary orders urgent investigation into asylum rejection letter which criticised Bible". www.Premier.org.uk. 2 April 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  29. ^ "Britain bans heroic bishops: persecuted Christian leaders from war zones refused entry". www.Express.co.uk. Daily Express. 4 December 2016. Retrieved 2019.
  30. ^ "UK government discriminates against Christian refugees from Syria". BarnabasFund.org. Barnabas Fund. Retrieved 2019.
  31. ^ "Windrush: Home Office admits data breach in compensation scheme". www.BBC.co.uk. BBC News - British Broadcasting Corporation. 8 April 2019.
  32. ^ "Brexit: Home Office sorry for EU citizen data breach". www.BBC.co.uk. BBC News - British Broadcasting Corporation. 11 April 2019.
  33. ^ "Home Office to launch independent review of data protection compliance". www.CivilServiceWorld.com. Civil Service World. 12 April 2019.
  34. ^ "Court castigates Home Office over misuse of immigration law". The Guardian. 16 April 2019.
  35. ^ "Windrush generation: UK 'unlawfully ignored' immigration rules warnings". BBC News. 25 November 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  36. ^ "Why the Home Office rejects so many LGBTQ asylum claims". City, University of London. 10 September 2019. Archived from the original on 25 November 2020. Retrieved 2020.

External links

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