Leader – Clipped wings

Hackney Council deserves praise for its handling of the Windrush scandal. It was the first local authority in the UK to appoint a dedicated lead on the issue, Cllr Carole Williams, and has since stayed on the front foot, winning awards for its campaigning.

Williams recently took the bold step of disinviting Home Office officials from a public advice session on the Windrush compensation scheme – in response to the well documented deportation flights of convicted criminals to Jamaica.

While one could ask why they were invited in the first place, the council has now, very publicly, drawn a line between itself and central government, which it has called on to review and rethink its hostile environment policies before it is willing to engage again on Windrush.

Those convicted of crimes may breach a social contract with their fellow citizens, but they do not rip it up. Some on those flights feared they were being sent to their death; others have no family or friends in Jamaica.

The Town Hall’s advice session was organised after a lack of take-up for compensation.

Is it any wonder people are cautious when these deportations, and the Home Office’s response that it was simply removing “foreign national offenders”, show that lessons have not been learned by the government as to how it should treat people in this country in a humane way, whether they have committed a crime or not?

The council is right to call attention to this, and to ask for better.