CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS
National Audit Office report: Asylum and Immigration: a review of Home Office
'I welcome the NAO's conclusion that the asylum data and statistics are generally reliable. Immigration officers enter all applications on the main asylum database promptly, and the Home Office has markedly improved data quality. There are problems though that should be addressed urgently, for example, the statistics omit 16,000 asylum cases supported by the Home Office but managed by local authorities.
The real story here, though, is about the amount of data that is collected. The analysis the NAO has done on the data that is currently collected shows no statistical relationship between the reduction in the number of asylum applications and increased migration through other routes. But there simply is not enough data collected. Insufficient data, especially on visitor numbers, means that more sophisticated analysis cannot be done. Better means of identifying migrants entering the UK must be put in place, for example by recording everyone who enters or leaves the country.
It is also vital that we have a picture of how many illegal immigrants there are in the UK. Producing such estimates is not easy but other countries have made more progress, and the Home Office has dragged its feet in working out how this could be done.'