Shake-up in law to include tagging

Electronic tagging will monitor asylum seekers as an alternative to

The proposal is outlined in the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment
of Claimants etc) Bill, which was published last week.

If enacted, the bill will also make it more difficult for asylum
seekers who destroy their travel documents to succeed in their
claim and will introduce an offence of human trafficking for
non-sexual exploitation. This would carry a maximum penalty of 14
years’ imprisonment.

The current system of appeal will be scrapped and a new single tier
of appeal introduced, restricting access to judicial review.

Support will be removed from families whose applications for asylum
have failed in an attempt to encourage more to return home
voluntarily. Although there is no specific mention in the bill of
taking the children of asylum seekers into care, home secretary
David Blunkett confirmed that if a family was made destitute the
state would have an obligation to look after their children.

Andrew Cozens, president of the Association of Directors of Social
Services, warned of the “unacceptable pressure” that such a measure
would place on “already overstretched resources” in social services
departments. “Ideas of this sort belong to an earlier century,” he

Alongside the bill, the Department for Constitutional Affairs
confirmed that legal aid on initial asylum applications would be
limited to five hours from May 2004, but its 11th hour amendment
allowing the Legal Services Commission to grant an extension in
“genuine and complex” cases would also be implemented (news, page
13, 13 November).

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