The Home Office (HO), also known (especially in official papers and when referred to in Parliament) as the Home Department, is a ministerial department of the British Government, 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 His Majesty's Prison Service and the National Probation Service, but these have been transferred to the Ministry of Justice.
2 Marsham Street, Westminster
|Formed||27 March 1782|
|Jurisdiction||Government of the United Kingdom|
|Headquarters||2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF|
|Annual budget||£10.8 billion (current) and £500 million (capital) in 2018–19|
|Secretary of State responsible|
|Ministers of State (attending Cabinet) responsible|
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 by James Cleverly since November 2023. The Home Office is managed from day to day by a civil servant, the Permanent Under-Secretary of State of the Home Office.
As of October 2014, the Home Office comprises the following organisations:
(in millions £)
|Capital Funding |
(in millions £)
|Science, Technology, Analysis, Research, and Strategy||214.2||84.6|
|Migration and Borders||216.7||157.9|
|Immigration and Passports||541.9||43.3|
|Borders and Enforcement||702.1||154.2|
|Arm's Length Bodies||134.7||15.2|
The Home Office outsources to a number of contractors to handle specific duties relating to its mission.
|G4S||Administering Detention centres and Removals|
|Sopra Steria||Residence documents processing services|
|TLScontact||Visa processing services|
The Home Office ministers are as follows:
|The Rt Hon. James Cleverly MP||Secretary of State for the Home Department||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; oversight of the Security Service; overall responsibility for the Home Office response to COVID-19 including health measures at the border and police powers to enforce lockdown.|
|The Rt Hon. Tom Tugendhat MBE MP||Minister of State for Security||Counter terrorism – Prepare, Prevent, Pursue, Protect; response to state threats; cyber security and crime; serious and organised crime; oversight of NCA; aviation and maritime security; economic security; economic crime (including anti-corruption and illicit finance); international criminality; fraud; countering extremism; extradition policy and operations; Special Cases Unit (exclusions, deprivations etc.); MP security and VIP protection; online safety; victims of terrorism.|
|The Rt Hon. Robert Jenrick MP||Minister of State for Immigration||Legal migration: Net migration; UK points-based system; simplifying the immigration system and immigration rules; current and future visa policy; nationality; Windrush; FBIS and Border Strategy 2025; Border Force operations; Home Office interests in free trade agreements; Safe and legal routes and resettlement, including: Ukraine Family Scheme, Homes for Ukraine Scheme, Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme, Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy, Hong Kong BN(O). Illegal migration and asylum: illegal migration strategy and New Plan for Immigration oversight; Nationality and Borders Act part 2; small boats policy (ops with MoD); asylum decision making and accommodationl; returns and removals, including third country agreements; detention estate; foreign national offenders; Immigration Enforcement; compliant environment; organised immigration crime (OIC); MEDP and future TCAP deals; modern slavery.|
|The Rt Hon. Chris Philp MP||Minister of State for Crime, Policing and Fire||Policing; police accountability and efficiency; local policing response to organised crime; public order, major events and Public Order Bill; cutting crime; criminal justice system; drugs and county lines; unauthorised encampments; firearms; alcohol and licensing; anti-social behaviour; neighbourhood crime; policing elements of RASSO (and any wider policing elements of the safeguarding portfolio); civil contingencies; ESMCP; Police, Crime, Sentencing and the Courts Act; fire policy; Home Office elements of fire operations; Grenfell.|
|Laura Farris MP||Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Victims and Safeguarding||Tackling violence against women and girls; domestic abuse; FGM and forced marriage; child sexual abuse and exploitation; Disclosure and Barring Service; Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority; sexual violence; Rape Review; prostitution; stalking; hate crime; crime prevention; early youth intervention; victim support; victims elements of RASSO; spiking.|
Held jointly with the Ministry of Justice
|The Rt Hon. The Lord Sharpe of Epsom OBE||Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department||Home Office responsibilities: public safety and national security 'shadow' in the Lords; public safety and national security legislation. Cross-cutting: departmental reform and Transformation Programme; commercial; digital and technology; data and identity; analysis, science and research; programme portfolio; public appointments and sponsorship; inquiries; Better Regulation.|
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:
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:
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 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. The union called off the strike; it claimed the department had, consequent to the threat of actions, announced 1,100 new border jobs.
The first allegations about the 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 some British citizens being wrongly deported, along with a further compensation scheme for those affected, and a wider debate on the Home Office hostile environment policy.
Aderonke Apata, a Nigerian LGBT activist, made two asylum claims that were both rejected by the Home Office in 2014 and on 1 April 2015 respectively, due to her previously having been in a relationship with a man and having children with that man. In 2014, Apata said that she would send an explicit video of herself to the Home Office to prove her sexuality. This resulted in her asylum bid gaining widespread support, with multiple petitions created in response, which gained hundreds of thousands of signatures combined.
On 8 August 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.
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.
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 (and only very partially in Wales), but the following reserved and excepted matters are handled by Westminster.
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:
The Department of Justice is accountable to the Northern Ireland Executive, whereas the Northern Ireland Office is a UK government department.
The Scottish Government Justice and Communities Directorates are responsible for devolved justice and home affairs policy.
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 asylum-seeker's original religion. 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 criticism grew on social media, the Home Office distanced itself from the decision, though it confirmed the letter was authentic. The Home Secretary[who?] said 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, such as the refusal to grant visas to the Archbishop of Mosul to attend the consecration of the UK's first Syriac Orthodox Cathedral.[better source needed] 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.
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 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.
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".
The House of Commons appoints the Committee with the task of examining the expenditure, administration, and policy of the Home Office and its associated public bodies.