Home Office

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Home Office
Welsh: Y Swyddfa Gartref
Marsham Street.jpg
2 Marsham Street, the headquarters of the Home Office
Department overview
Formed 1782
Jurisdiction United Kingdom (but in respect of most policing and justice matters: England and Wales only)
Headquarters 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF
Annual budget £8.9 billion (current) and £500 million (capital) in 2011-12 [1]
Minister responsible
Department executive
Website www.gov.uk/home-office

The Home Office (HO) is a ministerial department of the Her Majesty's Government, responsible for immigration, security, and law and order. As such it is responsible for the police, British 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 Probation Service, but these have transferred to the Ministry of Justice.

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


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

As of October 2014, the Home Office comprised 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 Theresa May MP Secretary of State for the Home Department Overall responsibility for the work of the department, including security and terrorism, legislative programme, expenditure issues
The Rt Hon Mike Penning MP Minister of State (with the Ministry of Justice) criminal justice service reform, victims and witnesses policy, out-of-court disposals, criminal law and procedure, Veterans Review, restorative justice, sponsorship of the Criminal Cases Review Commission
The Rt Hon John Hayes MP Minister of State Counter-terrorism, investigatory powers, Northern Ireland-related terrorism, Home Office science, security exports, small and medium enterprise, reducing regulation
The Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP Minister of State Immigration policy and legislation, the European Union, Her Majesty's Passport Office, asylum, Border Force, immigration enforcement, individual case decisions, UK Visas and Immigration, Extradition and mutual legal assistance (MLA)
The Rt Hon Lord Bates[6] Minister of State Home Office legislation and House of Lords business (except Extremism Bill), animal testing, devolution
Karen Bradley MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State CSE/CSA (online and contact), extremism (House of Commons business), mental health, modern slavery, VAWG, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), public protection, ASB, gangs, youth violence, hate crime, Parliamentary champion
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Countering extremism
Richard Harrington MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (jointly with Department for Communities and Local Government and Department for International Development Syrian refugees

Mike Penning works between the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice, while Richard Harrington works jointly at the Home Office, the Department for Communities and Local Government, and the Department for International Development.

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Permanent Under Secretaries of State of the Home Office


The Department outlined its aims for this Parliament in its Business Plan, which was published in May 2011 and superseded its Structural Reform Plan.[8] 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.[9]


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:[10]

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".[11]

Union Action

On 18 July 2012, the Public and Commercial Services Union announced that thousands of Home Office employees would[clarification needed] go on strike over jobs, pay and other issues.[12] 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.[13]

The former Home Office building at 50 Queen Anne's Gate, London
Lunar House in Croydon, which holds the headquarters of the Home Office UK Border Agency


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.[14]

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.[citation needed]


To meet the UK's 5-year science and technology strategy,[15] 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[17]

Excepted matters:

The following matters were not transferred at the devolution of policing and justice on 12 April 2010 and remain reserved:[18]

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. Retrieved 30 December 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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 19 June 2010.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Departments, agencies and public bodies", gov.uk. Retrieved 28 May 2014
  4. "Where have NPIA products and services moved to?". National Policing Improvement Agency. 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Our ministers". GOV.UK. Home Office. Retrieved 12 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. bates/ "Lord Bates - Inside Government - GOV.UK" Check |url= value (help). Homeoffice.gov.uk. Retrieved 28 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "New permanent secretary for the Home Office". Home Office website. Her Majesty's Government. 9 January 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Business Plan". Home Office. Home Office. Retrieved 12 April 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Business Plan:Home Office". Home Office. 10 Downing Street. Retrieved 12 April 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Changes to Home Office responsibilities". Casbah.ac.uk. Retrieved 19 June 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Anonymous takes down the UK Home Office website".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Home Office staff vote to strike over jobs and pay". Bbc.co.uk. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. http://union-news.co.uk/2012/07/pcs-calls-off-home-office-olympic-strike-after-extra-staff-are-posted-in/
  14. New Home Office building Archived 26 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  15. "Police Science and Technology Strategy: 2004 - 2009" (PDF). homeoffice.gov.uk. Retrieved 27 September 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Scotland Act 1998, Schedule 5, Part I". Opsi.gov.uk. Retrieved 19 June 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Northern Ireland Act 1998, Schedule 2". Opsi.gov.uk. 4 November 1950. Retrieved 19 June 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Northern Ireland Assembly Information Office. "''Policing and Justice'' motion, Northern ireland Assembly, 12 April 2010". Niassembly.gov.uk. Retrieved 19 June 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "About the NIO". Nio.gov.uk. 12 April 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links