Asylum applications to the UK have fallen by a third in the second
quarter of this year. However, the number of appeals has risen by
nearly 25 per cent in the same period, Home Office figures show.
From April to June, 10,585 applications were lodged (12,510
including dependants), down from 16,000 in the first three months
of the year and less than half the level of applications that were
made in the final three months of 2002 when 22,760 people applied
This suggests that the Home Office is on track to meet the prime
minister’s target of reducing asylum claims to 8,000 per quarter by
But the proportion of appeals rose in the last quarter to 21 per
cent from 17 per cent in the previous three months.
Maeve Sherlock, the new chief executive of the Refugee Council,
fears that the rise in appeals suggested “the quality of initial
decision-making is deteriorating”. The United Nations called the
policy “arbitrary” and likely to backfire.
The appeals also suggest that the demand for legal advice is rising
at a time when the government plans to restrict initial free legal
aid to just five hours (news, page 14, 28 August).
The Refugee Council said that measures introduced in the
Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, such as section 55,
which requires applicants to apply for asylum immediately, are
unlikely to have had more than a minimal impact. It said:”Denying
so many destitute people support in this way is simply increasing
hardship and risks breaching asylum seekers’ human rights.”
The statistics also show that at the end of June, 125 people who
had sought asylum at some stage were being detained in prisons –
excluding those seeking asylum who are also on remand, convicted or
sentenced for a criminal offence.
Meanwhile, the Home Office announced plans last week to introduce
fingerprinting, iris or facial recognition scans of visitors
applying for a visa to enter the UK. It says the security measures
will make it easier to prevent people staying here illegally or
fraudulently claiming asylum.
– Statistics available from www.homeoffice.gov.uk