Challenge Hostile Environment Data-sharing

People should be able to access essential public services – like sending their children to school, seeking medical care and reporting crime – without fear of immigration enforcement. Sign the #CareDontShare Firewall Pledge today
NHS worker checks patient records on tablet device
The cornerstone of the doctor-patient relationship is confidentiality and this data-sharing is a direct breach of that.
Dr Kitty Worthing, Docs Not Cops

We’re calling on government departments and public services to commit to a data ‘firewall’ – a cast-iron promise that the personal information they hold will not be shared with the Home Office for immigration enforcement purposes. 

As part of its discredited ‘hostile environment’ policy, the Government has set up a series of shadowy deals letting Home Office immigration enforcement teams access data – like personal addresses – collected by schools, hospitals, and job centres, and use it to track down children and adults for deportation.

It has also set up a system of entitlement checks and charging for health services, which means that when a person tries to access healthcare their personal details, including their address, may be sent to the Home Office.

The growing entanglement of policing and immigration enforcement also means police are routinely referring victims of crime and witnesses to the Home Office.

And a new carve-out in the Data Protection Act will let the Home Office and other data controllers disregard their data protection obligations when they process data for “the maintenance of effective immigration control” – making secret data-sharing for immigration enforcement purposes even easier.

Public servants want to protect, help and educate. But the Government has turned them into border guards, unwillingly – and sometimes unknowingly – reporting on the people they are there to serve.

These data-sharing practices mean we’ve become a country where people are afraid to send their children to school, seek urgent medical care or even report crimes to the police.

We have the power to stop this

This is potentially illegal and an abuse of people’s basic human rights. But together we have the power to end it.

Government departments like the Department for Education, Department of Health and Social Care, Department for Work and Pensions, and other local authorities, are under NO legal obligation to carry on sharing data with the Home Office.

In April 2018, in response to campaigning by Doctors of the World, Migrants’ Rights Network, National AIDS Trust, Liberty and others, the Government announced it would dramatically curtail arrangements to share data between NHS Digital and the Home Office to trace undocumented people.

In November 2018 it was announced that NHS Digital would pull out of the agreement entirely.

There is more work to do to make sure no data is shared between NHS services and the Home Office for immigration purposes – but this huge concession shows that when public servants and campaigners take a stand, we can win.

Care Don’t Share ‘firewall’

We believe doctors, teachers, police and other public servants should be allowed to do their jobs. But the Government is robbing them of the trust that’s central to everything they do.

We believe no child should be robbed of an education. Nobody should be dying because they are too scared to visit a hospital. Nobody should be too frightened to report a violent crime for fear they – not the perpetrator – will be targeted and detained.

So we’re calling on government departments and public services to commit to a data ‘firewall’ – a cast-iron promise that personal information collected by trusted public services will never be shared with the Home Office for immigration enforcement purposes.

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