In an attempt to reduce the number of immigrants, the British government approved the roving of advertising vans around London with the message “Go Home or Face Arrest” printed on them. These vans were being driven around London boroughs because it is believed the most number of immigrants live in this area.
According to the report from the Home Office, 11 immigrants left United Kingdom after seeing these vans. The initiative might have been effective since 11 immigrants voluntarily left the country out of fear. But the plan to have the van be driven around UK was dropped after the initiative received scathing and open criticisms by critics.
The “Go Home Vans” is just one part of a huge campaign in getting rid of illegal immigrants. This campaign is called “Operation Vaken”. Under this operation, newspaper advertisements and post cards sold at shops are also utilized to the spread the message that illegal immigrants can voluntarily leave the country to avoid arrests or forced deportation. According to a report from the Home Office because of the “Operation Vaken” 60 migrants returned home, 11 of which after seeing the vans, and 29 left United Kingdom after being warned by the immigration advice surgeries.
Despite the number of immigrants who voluntarily left because of the “Operation Vaken”, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper for Labour called the move as “decisive gimmick which should have never been approved by the Home Secretary to begin with”. Yet the prime minister’s spokes person rejected the comments and even justified that the operation was dropped not because of criticisms but because of results of the analysis during the initial run. Former Immigration Minister Mark Harper defended the move by stating that the government should continue to enforce immigration laws and encourage illegal immigrants to voluntarily leave United Kingdom.
Mr. Harper claimed that voluntary departures will save the government money of up to 830,000.00 British pounds, basing it on the average cost of enforced removal of 15,000.00 British pounds. The whole “Operation Vaken” including the vans and advertisements only cost the government 9,470.00 British pounds.
The downside of the whole initiative was that a huge number of hoax text messages were received. Home Office received 1561 text messages when the operation started, and out of those 1034 were hoaxes. It took the Home Office staff 17 hours to discern and deal with the number of hoax text messages. With the figures being shown, it can be said that “Operation Vaken” can be time consuming. Aside from hoax text messages, the Home Office also had to deal with hoax calls. Theresa May admitted that she committed an error in judgement so she decided to cancel the operations.
Liberal Democrats are completely happy with the cancellation of “Operation Vaken”. They all believe that the move was too offensive specifically inciting that the van advertisements were extremely offensive.