Big News – Home Office GPS Tagging Scheme Strips People of Data Protection Rights

On March 1st, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) put the Home Office on notice for failing to assess the privacy risks posed by the electronic monitoring of migrants. 

This is a significant step forward for the organisations, campaigners, organisers and people subjected to electronic monitoring who say that  systems of surveilling and monitoring migrants are  cruel, racist and hostile by design, and must be stopped. 

The investigation by the ICO, as a result of Privacy International’s complaint filed in August 2022 against the GPS tagging policy, highlighted widespread and systematic data protection violations. 

Under the hostile environment immigration system, which aims to make life as inhospitable as possible for migrants in Britain, GPS tagging is part of the immigration bail reporting regime. This regime criminalises migrants and requires them to report physically to reporting centres or police stations across the country, by phone, or as in the cases which the ICO investigated – be subject to 24/7 tagging. Migrants Organise members have long been speaking out about the impact of this system on them: 

One Migrants Organise member said “Whenever I have to report, I can’t sleep. I get so stressed all day, and the journey is so long. It takes me between one to two hours to go there, and then I have to queue for a long time, and come back. It takes me the whole day and I feel so tired afterwards. My Crohn’s diseases gets worse because of the stress.” Another member said “People who are navigating the current immigration system are already dissatisfied and let down by the government with their inhumane immigration practices and these cruel reporting conditions are an addition to that.” 

Significantly, the ICO have issued an enforcement notice (the strongest form of enforcement available to the authority under data protection law) and a formal warning to the Home Office, in respect of future related schemes. 

The decision also comes after the news that Capita PLC (the company contracted by the Home Office) to deliver the GPS technology that enables migrants to be tracked 24/7, had lost its contract to Serco. Abolish Reporting London, a grassroots organising group, have been organising for the past two years to get Capita’s contract dropped. The combination of organising, campaigning and legal litigation by groups such as Migrants Organise, BID and Privacy International have exposed the Home Office’s policies as inhumane and now, unlawful. These recent developments also show that when we build our power and direct our energy strategically, we define what is possible. 

We cannot let the Home Office carry on with ‘business as usual’. We must continue to organise so that companies like Capita, and now Serco, cannot continue to profit off the misery of our communities. We continue calling for a world built on principles of care, not surveillance. Together, we will keep organising  to abolish the inhumane immigration reporting conditions to which many migrants in Britain are subject and an end to the hostile environment immigration system. 


We are calling for an end to GPS tagging. 

Take action now – write to your MP!

Learn more about the Abolish Reporting campaign.