quarter of 2002 (July to September) and announces a further robust
measure to tackle abuse of the system by ending the policy of
Exceptional Leave to Remain (ELR).
The figures show that applications have increased and continue to be
at an unsatisfactory level. However, the processes for dealing with
asylum claims are increasingly efficient with more decisions being
made within the two-month target and a new record number of removals
of failed asylum seekers. These figures also pre-date the recent
decisions to impose visas on Zimbabweans and measures in the
Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act which are now coming into
Exceptional Leave to Remain is to be replaced by a new status of
'humanitarian protection' for those who have protection needs but who
are not covered by the 1951 Refugee Convention.
Home Office minister, Beverley Hughes, said:
'These figures are not satisfactory and demonstrate that we continue
to take more than our fair share of claimants with an unfounded
asylum claim. This underlines why it was so important to get the
latest legislation through parliament (only three weeks ago) and why
those who have tried to stop us from improving the end to end system
are so wrong, even though it will take time for these improvements to
feed through and make a difference.
'We will be introducing a further robust measure with the ending of
ELR. I believe that our use of ELR has encouraged abuse and acted as
a pull factor, encouraging economic migrants to apply for asylum in
the UK in the belief that they will be given ELR when their asylum
claim is rejected. We have already stopped the routine granting of
ELR on a country basis and we are now significantly tightening the
basis on which leave will be granted to all those who have been
refused asylum. We are determined that protection should only be
granted to those who really need it - our asylum system is not a
short-cut to work or settlement in the UK.'
Key findings in the asylum statistics bulletin include:
- Applications have risen by 11 per cent from the last quarter to
- The largest increases come from Iraqis (+26 per cent), Zimbabweans
(+56 per cent) and Somalians (+44 per cent).
- Initial decisions were 4 per cent higher than the previous quarter
but the backlog rose again this quarter to 37,200 due to increased
- IND has reached well beyond its targets for speedy decisions, with
initial decisions made within two months on 77 per cent of new
cases (the annual target is 65 per cent).
- The Home Office received fewer appeals in this quarter and the
Immigration Appellate Authority continued to make a record number
of determinations - 18 per cent higher than the previous quarter.
- A record number of failed asylum seekers were removed in this
period - 3,565 including dependants.
- 19,470 asylum seekers applied for NASS support in this quarter.
- 1,445 detainees whohad claimed asylum at some stage were being
held in detention at the end of this period.
Commenting further on the statistics, Beverley Hughes said:
'These figures predate the implementation of measures we have agreed
with the French and demonstrate why we have focused on further
radical reform of the system to complement this wide-ranging
agreement. Had we not prevented clandestine entry on the kind of
numbers we saw last year from the freight depots at Coquelles and
Fréthun, matters would be even worse.
'Already those measures in place - technologically enhanced freight
searches, joint immigration controls and forgery detection equipment
- are having a significant impact. The number of clandestines
discovered at Dollands Moor arriving from Fréthun has dropped from a
high of nearly 400 in April to only three in October. To counter
possible dispersal to continental ports beyond Calais we are also
procuring new detection equipment for the use of port and ferry
operators further along the French coast and in Belgium.
'The closure of Sangatte will be another important element in the
fight against asylum abuse. The closure of the centre to new entrants
means that gangs, traffickers and illegal immigrants are already
beginning to understand that there is just no point going to Northern
France because they will not get into the UK.
'We have already reacted to what was a very clear abuse of the asylum
system by imposing a visa regime on Zimbabweans wishing to travel to
the UK. I believe that this will ensure effective management of our
border controls by allowing genuine visitors to enter quickly and
stop those who have no right to be here - those genuinely fleeing
persecution should seek asylum in the first safe country they come
'The measures in the NIA Act will, over time, reduce the pull factor
to Britain and tackle abuse of the system. Those who make late claims
will not be entitled to support and applicants from safe countries
will be fast tracked and have no right of appeal in the UK. We will
also be clamping down on benefits shopping.
'This is, of course, at a time when we are expanding economic
migration, opening up the work permit system, and looking for new
routes for legitimate, legal migration in areas of the economy which
require the necessary skill or additional work force. It is precisely
because we anticipated the further surge (accelerated by the imminent
closure of Sangatte) that we have taken the steps we have outlined
over recent months. We now need to ensure that they work.'
Commenting on the appeals process, Baroness Scotland, minister at the
Lord Chancellor's Department, said:
'Record numbers of appeals are being dealt with by the Immigration
Appellate Authority (IAA) - 18,260 in the third quarter of 2002, 18
per cent higher than the previous quarter. The figures also show that
determinations are outstripping the number of appeals received by the
Home Office for the second consecutive quarter.
'This continued increase in determinations reflects the IAA's ability
to handle increasing numbers of appeals. Further expansion of the
Authority is enabling it to receive more each month. In addition to
this, measures in the new NIA Act will ensure that appeals will be
dealt with speedily, that the system is not undermined by meritless
applications made simply to cause delay, whilst maintaining proper
standards of fairness.'
1. 'Asylum Statistics: 3rd Quarter 2002' are published on the Home
2. 'Control of Immigration Statistics 2001' is also published today
on the above website. We have already published a snapshot of this
publication on 26 September 2002.
3. The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act received Royal Assent
on 7 November 2002.
4. The home secretary announced the review of ELR on 7 October 2002.
ELR was originally intended to help those who either have protection
needs but do not qualify as refugees under the Convention, or who
have other, humanitarian needs. However, its use has grown, from
being granted to around 10 per cent of claimants five years ago to
around 25 per cent of claimants, often in cases where it is difficult
to remove particular groups of failed asylum seekers. The government
has already ended the routine granting of ELR on a country basis.
Under the new arrangements leave will be granted for three years,
with scope for shorter periods in specific circumstances, followed by
an active review. At this point, if the individual no longer has
protection needs, further leave will be refused. The home secretary
would retain the power to allow some of those who fall outside the
'humanitarian category' to stay on an exceptional, discretionary
basis, but failed asylum seekers who do not fall into one of these
groups will not be granted leave to remain.