British citizens in Sheffield are the most stopped by immigration officers in the UK
Sheffield has the highest percentage of British citizens being stopped and questioned over immigration offences out of the UK's biggest cities, new figures show.
Data uncovered in a collaborative investigation shows from January 2012 to January 2017, 4.687 Sheffield people were stopped by Home Office officials - 33 per cent were actually fully fledged British citizens.
Called 'encounters' by the Home Office, this is where individuals are asked about their immigration status, and must be based on 'reasonable suspicion'.
The data has raised questioned over weaknesses in intelligence and possible discrimination against those questioned.
In Sheffield, British citizens were stopped more than twice as much as those of any other nationality, with the second highest was people from from Pakistan on 473 occasions, 360 people from China, 184 from Bangladesh, 174 Indians and 115 people from Iran.
Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough MP Gill Furniss said: "I am shocked and deeply concerned by the data revealing Sheffield as the hot spot when it comes to British national being stopped by Home Office immigration officers.
"The excuse that immigration officers don’t have enough prior intelligence and therefore stop people, often on basis of their appearance is totally unacceptable in my view.
"Actions like these will undoubtedly add to increasing tensions between our communities.
"I am calling for an urgent and comprehensive review into this matter to establish the facts. I want to know why British citizens from Sheffield are being targeted in this way, as well as further details about the demographics of those being stopped.’’
In the same five year period, 888 people from from 60 different countries were arrested over immigration offences.
People registered as Pakistani came out on top of the list with 265 arrests followed by China with 136, India with 105 and 96 people from Bangladesh.
The seven month investigation by The Bristol Cable and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism was based on Freedom of Information requests to the Home Office, covering the UK's 11 major mainland cities for the five years to January 2017.
The data has only recently been released by the Home Office, seven months after the initial FOI request. This was after repeated missed deadlines, an internal review and eventually a decision notice from the Information Commissioner’s Office.
The Home Office, in response to questions over whether the data could indicate racial profiling and a failure in intelligence led operations, said: "All Immigration Enforcement activity is intelligence led and fully compliant with the Equality Act 2010."