Home Office

The Home Office (HO) is a ministerial department of Her Majesty's Government of the United Kingdom, responsible for immigration, security and law and order. As such it is responsible for the police, fire and rescue services, 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 Her Majesty's Prison Service and the National Probation Service, but these have been transferred to the Ministry of Justice. The Cabinet minister responsible for the department is the Home Secretary.

The remit of the Home Office was substantially reduced in 2007 when, after Home Secretary John Reid had declared the Home Office "not fit for purpose", the Prime Minister Tony Blair separated a new Ministry of Justice from the reduced Home Office. Its culpability in the Windrush scandal involving the illegal deportation and harassment of legal British residents is an example of a more recent failure.

The Home Office continues to be known, especially in official papers and when referred to in Parliament, as the Home Department.[2]

Home Office
Welsh: Y Swyddfa Gartref
Home Office
Marsham Street

2 Marsham Street, the headquarters of the Home Office
Department overview
Formed27 March 1782
JurisdictionUnited Kingdom (but in respect of most policing and justice matters: England and Wales only)
Headquarters2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF
Annual budget£8.9 billion (current) and £500 million (capital) in 2011–12 [1]
Minister responsible
Department executive
Home Office Immigration Enforcement vehicle north Finchley
A Home Office Immigration Enforcement vehicle in north London.


The Home Office is headed by the Home Secretary, a Cabinet minister supported by the department's senior civil servant, the Permanent Secretary.

As of October 2014, the Home Office comprises the following organisations:[3]

Non-ministerial government departments



Non-departmental public bodies


In October 2012, a number of functions of the National Policing Improvement Agency were transferred to the Home Office ahead of the future abolition of the agency.[4]

These included:



The Home Office Ministers are as follows:[5]

Minister Rank Portfolio
The Rt Hon. Sajid Javid MP Secretary of State Overall responsibility for the work of the department; including security and terrorism; legislative programme; expenditure issues.
The Rt Hon. Caroline Nokes Minister of State for Immigration Immigration and border policy; foreign national offenders; resettlement policy; implementation of the Immigration Act 2016; UK Visas and Immigration; immigration enforcement; Border Force; Her Majesty’s Passport Office; Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration; Home Office immigration transparency data; net migration statistics. Attends Cabinet.
The Rt Hon. Ben Wallace MP Minister of State for Security and Economic Crime Implementing the strategic defence and security review; counter-terrorism; investigatory powers; communications data legislation; communications capabilities development; security industry engagement; single infrastructure policing; aviation security; firearms; chemical biological radiological nuclear defence (CBRNE) and science and technology programme management; small and medium enterprises; serious and organised crime strategy; criminal finance and asset recovery; cyber crime and security; National Crime Agency oversight; UK anti-corruption policy; better regulation; animal testing.
The Rt Hon. Nick Hurd MP Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Services Police finance and resourcing; police reform and governance; police representative groups; police pay and pensions; police workforce; Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC); Policing and Crime Bill; police integrity and transparency; emergency services collaboration; crime statistics; national fire policy; Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser; national resilience and fire programmes; localism and reform; workforce pay; pensions and industrial relations; extradition; mutual legal assistance; EU criminal justice; Interpol; foreign criminality.
The Baroness Williams of Trafford Minister of State for Countering Extremism All Home Office business in the House of Lords; countering extremism; hate crime; integration; devolution; data strategy; identity and biometrics; Better Regulation; animals in science.
Victoria Atkins MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding, and Vulnerability Disclosure and Barring Service; drugs; alcohol; countering extremism; hate crime; crime prevention; anti-social behaviour; gangs, youth crime and youth violence; knife crime; wildlife crime; child sexual exploitation and abuse; online child sexual exploitation; mental health; modern slavery; honour-based violence; female genital mutilation (FGM); violence against women and girls; missing people and children; sexual violence; prostitution and lap dancing; domestic violence.


The Department outlined its aims for this Parliament in its Business Plan, which was published in May 2011 and superseded its Structural Reform Plan.[6] The plan said the department will:

1. Empower the public to hold the police to account for their role in cutting crime
  • Introduce directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners and make police actions to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour more transparent
2. Free up the police to fight crime more effectively and efficiently
  • Cut police bureaucracy, end unnecessary central interference and overhaul police powers in order to cut crime, reduce costs and improve police value for money. Simplify national institutional structures and establish a National Crime Agency to strengthen the fight against organised crime (and replace the Serious Organised Crime Agency)
3. Create a more integrated criminal justice system
  • Help the police and other public services work together across the criminal justice system
4. Secure our borders and reduce immigration
  • Deliver an improved migration system that commands public confidence and serves our economic interests. Limit non-EU economic migrants, and introduce new measures to reduce inflow and minimise abuse of all migration routes, for example the student route. Process asylum applications more quickly, and end the detention of children for immigration purposes
5. Protect people's freedoms and civil liberties
  • Reverse state interference to ensure there is not disproportionate intrusion into people‟s lives
6. Protect our citizens from terrorism
  • Keep people safe through the Government‟s approach to counter-terrorism
7. Build a fairer and more equal society (through the Government Equalities Office)
  • Help create a fair and flexible labour market. Change culture and attitudes. Empower individuals and communities. Improve equality structures, frontline services and support; and help Government Departments and others to consider equality as a matter of course

The Home Office publishes progress against the plan on the 10 Downing Street website.[7]


On 27 March 1782, the Home Office was formed by renaming the existing Southern Department, with all existing staff transferring. On the same day, the Northern Department was renamed the Foreign Office.

To match the new names, there was a transferring of responsibilities between the two Departments of State. All domestic responsibilities 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:[8]

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.

Anonymous attack

On 7 April 2012, hacktivist group Anonymous temporarily took down the UK Home Office website. The group took responsibility for the attack, which was part of ongoing Anonymous activity in protest against the deportation of hackers as part of Operation TrialAtHome. One Anonymous source claimed in their tweet it was also launched in retaliation for "draconian surveillance proposals".[9]

Union action

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.[10] However, the PCSU called off the strike before it was planned it claimed the department had, subsequent to the threat of actions, announced 1,100 new border jobs.[11]

HomeOffice QueenAnnesGate
The former Home Office building at 50 Queen Anne's Gate, London
Lunar House 86
Lunar House in Croydon, which holds the headquarters of UK Visas and Immigration


Until 1978, the Home Office had its offices in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Main Building in Whitehall. From 1978 to 2004, the Home Office was 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, SW1P 4DF, on the site of the demolished Marsham Towers building of the Department of the Environment.[12]

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.[13]


To meet the UK's 5-year science and technology strategy,[14] the Home Office sponsors research in police sciences including:

  • Biometrics – including face and voice recognition
  • Cell type analysis – to determine the origin of cells (e.g. hair, skin)
  • Chemistry – new techniques to recover latent fingerprints
  • DNA – identifying offender characteristics from DNA
  • Improved Profiling – of illicit drugs to help identify their source
  • Raman Spectroscopy – to provide more sensitive drugs and explosives detectors (e.g. roadside drug detection)
  • Terahertz imaging methods and technologies – e.g. image analysis and new cameras, to detect crime, enhance images and support anti-terrorism


Most front-line law and order policy areas, such as policing and criminal justice, are devolved in Scotland and Northern Ireland but the following reserved and excepted matters are handled by Westminster.


Reserved matters:

The Scottish Government Justice and Communities Directorates are responsible for devolved justice and home affairs policy.

Northern Ireland[16]

Excepted matters:

The following matters were not transferred at the devolution of policing and justice on 12 April 2010 and remain reserved:[17]

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.


Under the Welsh devolution settlement, specific policy areas are transferred to the National Assembly for Wales rather than reserved to Westminster.

See also


  1. ^ Budget 2011 (PDF). London: HM Treasury. 2011. p. 48. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 May 2011. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
  2. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster (9 June 2008). "Hansard – Oral Questions to the Home Department – 9 June 2008". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 2010-06-19.
  3. ^ "Departments, agencies and public bodies - GOV.UK". Gov.uk. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  4. ^ "Where have NPIA products and services moved to?". National Policing Improvement Agency. 2012. Archived from the original on 18 January 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  5. ^ "Our ministers". GOV.UK. Home Office. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  6. ^ "Business Plan". Home Office. Home Office. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  7. ^ "Business Plan:Home Office". Home Office. 10 Downing Street. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  8. ^ "Changes to Home Office responsibilities". Casbah.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 9 July 2011. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  9. ^ "Anonymous takes down the UK Home Office website". Rt.com. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Home Office staff vote to strike over jobs and pay". Bbc.co.uk. 2012-07-18. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  12. ^ New Home Office building Archived 26 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ "History of 1 Horse Guards Road - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 2018-09-19.
  14. ^ "Police Science and Technology Strategy: 2004 – 2009" (PDF). Homeoffice.gov.uk. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 February 2007. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  15. ^ "Scotland Act 1998, Schedule 5, Part I". Opsi.gov.uk. Retrieved 2010-06-19.
  16. ^ "Northern Ireland Act 1998, Schedule 2". Opsi.gov.uk. 4 November 1950. Retrieved 2010-06-19.
  17. ^ Northern Ireland Assembly Information Office. "''Policing and Justice'' motion, Northern ireland Assembly, 12 April 2010". Niassembly.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 16 December 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  18. ^ "About the NIO". Nio.gov.uk. 12 April 2010. Archived from the original on 17 September 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2010.

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