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Govt: Illegal immigrant ‘go home’ ads working

CRITICISED: Cable called the campaign against illegal immigration "stupid and offensive"

MOBILE ADVERTISEMENTS placed on vans telling illegal immigrants to “go home or face arrest” are working, according to the Prime Minister's office.

The pilot campaign being run by the Home Office has faced stiff criticism, and Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable was one senior figure to voice his dismay at the “stupid and offensive” scheme.

However, David Cameron’s official spokesman said the trial campaign was “clear that this is already working”.

He did not provide figures of what authorities had received in response to the ad which tells illegal immigrants to phone in their presence to avoid arrest, instead he insisted the Home Office was “looking at what they could take forward” from the campaign that was tested across London.

The scheme had vans travel through six of the capital’s boroughs – Hounslow, Barking and Dagenham, Ealing, Brent and Redbridge – demanding those without official papers hand themselves into authorities.

The Home Office says it costs £15,000 to forcibly deport someone, whereas the scheme cost under £10,000.

Speaking yesterday on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Cable questioned the efficacy of the campaign.

He told the programme: “It was stupid and offensive. I think it is very unlikely it will continue.

“It is designed, apparently, to sort of create a sense of fear [in the] British population that we have a vast problem with illegal immigration.”

He added: “We have a problem but it's not a vast one. It's got to be dealt with in a measured way dealing with the underlying causes.”

The six councils chosen for the vans’ routes were not consulted due to immigration policy not requiring local government consent, according to the Home Office.

It added the scheme was being carried out in order to find new ways in saving the taxpayer money.

Adding his disapproval to the scheme was Brent council leader Muhammed Butt, who said it showed up as an "act of desperation" and that it would "just drive people underground".

Whether or not the campaign is expanded nationally is yet to be decided, Number 10 said, and that it depended on further information once the trial has concluded.

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