“I am looking forward to taking up post and meeting staff and managers throughout the agency and the organisations we work with to deliver excellence.”
Rob Whiteman, UK Border Agency chief executive, July 2011
Well, Rob, here’s your chance to do something genuinely “excellent” and show that you’re not just another one of those overpaid, inept, management-speak babbling, self-serving, bureaucrats disengaged from normal values of decency and common sense.
Your “not fit for purpose” organisation, management and staff are a long-standing source of national embarrassment (strike during the Olympics anyone?). But just when we all thought your organisation’s haplessness couldn’t shock us any more, you’ve managed to plumb new depths. It’s one thing to lose track of thousands of undesirables and fail to deliver on the basic border control mission (bonuses all round, eh?). But …
L/Cpl Isimeli Baleiwai from Fiji was a British soldier for 13 years, serving in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Iraq twice and once in Afghanistan. He married a UK national and has two British kids. His final commanding officer’s report described him as “an excellent junior NCO … always leading from the front … charismatic, selfless and well-liked.”
He has finally left the Army and applied to stay in the UK. It appears that the UK Border Agency rejected his application on the basis that he was not of “good character” because he was once disciplined in the Army for a fight – something that squaddies do, especially after returning from traumatic theatres such as Afghanistan. So he has a couple of weeks to pack up, leave his family behind and return to Fiji.
Individuals in junior positions within organisations do occasionally make bad decisions. Sometimes they are too busy, sometimes they have poor judgement, sometimes they have baggage that affects their decision making, sometimes they lack common sense, experience or even empathy. But the point of having management – assuming that training and supervision have failed to prevent the problem in the first place – is to provide a level of assurance and sanity. Depressingly, this contemptible decision must have been approved by at least one layer of management.
So Rob Whiteman, it’s time to show the leadership that you no doubt talk about to justify your salary. Do the right thing.
I can’t imagine you or many of your staff having done anything as worthwhile as military service. But if you had, you would appreciate the disproportionality of equating a CO’s punishment for a 30 second fight with the rape and terrorism convictions held by many of the people that you routinely fail to track and to expel from the country.
If the case officer responsible for this decision used their discretion, you should withdraw them from active service until they have been retrained. If, on the other hand, the rules gave the case officer no latitude, change the rules – because they are defective. The manager(s) approving the decision need retraining or pointing to a career more appropriate to their qualities.
Lets see some of that excellence. Lets see some leadership. Lets see your organisation rise just this once above inadequacy and incompetence.
Update: 4 Aug 2012
According to fijilive, Cpl Baleiwai has been given discretionary leave to remain pending the outcome of a military hearing. It’s still a shabby scenario, but let’s hope for a more creditable outcome.