Official figures may significantly underestimate the number of suspected war criminals living in the UK, the ex-head of the Border Force has warned. Of the cases confirmed by the Home Office, suspects originated from countries including Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Rwanda, Serbia and Sri Lanka.
Brian Moore told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that tracing people suspected of war crimes who are now in Britain is not the “priority it should be”.
Mr Moore, the force’s former director general, claims official numbers rely on those who volunteer information.
The Home Office said it is constantly trying to improve screening methods.
Mr Moore told the programme he had concerns about how the UK tracks people who “wield the cudgels, apply the electrodes, or systematically commit rape” during conflicts abroad and then flee to Britain.
Last year, the Home Office revealed how it some 100 war crimes suspects making UK immigration claims.
However, Mr Moore said the true figure was likely to be significantly higher and called on the government actively to seek witness statements from victims of war crimes who have also claimed asylum in Britain.
Between January 2012 and April 2013, the Home Office researched nearly 800 cases where individuals were suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
It made “adverse recommendations” against 99 people who had applied for British citizenship, asylum or leave to remain in the UK. A further 16 war crimes suspects had applied to enter the UK.
Between 2005 and 2012 more than 700 suspected war criminals were identified by UK immigration officials.