Refugee group raises concern over reasons for fall in asylum applicants

    Applications for asylum fell by 13 per cent to 9,210 in the second
    quarter of 2004, new official figures have revealed.

    The government has attributed the fall to the closure of Sangatte,
    the introduction of fast-track processing, and “tough new

    However, Margaret Lally, deputy chief executive of the Refugee
    Council, described the fall in applications as “extremely

    “The government claims to be offering a safe haven to people
    fleeing persecution. It is therefore worrying that the number of
    people offered sanctuary here has fallen so dramatically when we
    are seeing widespread repression and conflict in many parts of the

    The number of people removed in the same period, excluding
    dependents, fell by 6 per cent to 3,130.

    The government said this was because nationals from the 10 European
    Union accession countries were now eligible to work in the

    Meanwhile, as Community Care went to press, Colnbrook
    immigration removal centre near Heathrow was still awaiting its
    first arrivals. The centre was supposed to have opened this month
    for 330 single male asylum seekers.

    The news comes as more than 130 asylum seekers continue to be held
    in prisons after the unrest at Harmondsworth removal centre more
    than a month ago due to a lack of space at other detention

    About 430 asylum seekers were moved from the west London centre
    when riots broke out after a man was found hanged in his

    It has also emerged that those detained in prisons include a
    19-year-old asylum seeker held in Feltham young offender
    institution. Initially, he was moved to Birmingham prison but
    transferred after one week when his age was noted.

    Sarah Cutler, policy and research officer at charity Bail for
    Immigration for Detainees, said: “If they haven’t got room in a
    detention centre they should be releasing them.” 

    – Figures from

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