Asylum applications in the UK fell in 2005 by 24% to the lowest level since 1994, according to new figures released today by the Home Office.
The figures also reveal that the number of removals of asylum seekers has increased for the fourth consecutive quarter with 3,525 principal applicants being removed in Q4, 2005 compared to 2,945 in the same period the previous year, an increase of 20%.
According to the Home Office, the figures demonstrate the success of the government’s reform of the asylum system and in particular policies designed to target and remove those asylum seekers whose claims have failed and who have no right to be in the UK.
Commenting on today’s figures Home Office Minister Tony McNulty said: “The figures published today show we are continuing to cut the number of asylum applications…. Intake is also falling at a faster rate than elsewhere in Europe reflecting the package of measures we have put in place, such as immigration controls at ports across the channel and legislation to target abuse.
“Removals have also increased but we need to build on this progress – encouraging more people to leave voluntarily and working with source countries to secure more returns.
“We have made significant progress towards our target of removing more failed asylum seekers on a monthly basis than there are unfounded claims and I am confident that we are close to achieving it.”
Responding to the figures Maeve Sherlock, chief executive of the Refugee Council said: “It’s easy to forget when all the focus is on statistics and targets that what we’re actually talking about are people who have fled from terrible persecution. The woman journalist raped for speaking out against her government is not a statistic. The political activist beaten and tortured is not a statistic.
“The real issue here is how we treat people who come to us for help. In 2006, maybe we can take a fresh approach, banish the unnecessary fears that the public have about asylum and introduce an effective and humane system that treats asylum seekers as human beings, not numbers.”
She added: “We are pleased that the latest figures show that more people are getting positive decisions on their asylum claims, but poor initial decision-making remains a problem. The number of successful appeals rose steadily in 2005, totalling 22% in the last 3 months of the year. The failure to get decisions right first time causes unnecessary fear and
uncertainty for refugees, erodes trust in the system and is expensive for the taxpayer.”