Bishops hit out at Home Office

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Plans to split the Home Office into two departments have come under fire from religious leaders.

Four Church of England bishops and other influential religious figures have attacked the plans in a letter to the Times amid fears that the reorganisation may cause applications of asylum seekers to be given lip service.

The letter, signed by the Bishops of Winchester, Durham, Guilford and Worcester, stated that the changes could likely result in "increasing risk to our nation's public and political life of the inhumane and imperfectly processed decisions".

Reverend David Cornick, general secretary of the United Reformed Church, and Reverend John Vincent, leader of the Ashram community and ex-president of the Methodist Conference, also signed the letter.

"We fear that yet more upheaval in the Home Office may result in greater casualties among those suffering from the brutalities of the government’s increasingly draconian immigration policy,"

Next month the Home Office will be split into two departments as the Department for Constitutional Affairs will become the Ministry of Justice to deal with criminal justice while the Home Office will be in charge of policing and counter-terrorism.

John Reid has defended criticism from both the Conservatives and the former home secretary Charles Clarke saying that the split will help the government deal with the "challenges of today's world and focus on the priorities of today's people".

The religious leaders however believe that the split will leave more asylum seekers deported back to dangerous countries where they will be at risk. "Can we ignore the horrifying infringements of these that are happening on our doorstep?" the letter asked the newspaper.

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