Asylum seekers who deliberately destroy their travel documents
to try and improve their chances of staying in the UK and who do
not co-operate with re-documentation during the removal process
could face up to two years in prison, writes Clare
The new documentation offences, which come into force next week,
are the first of a number of measures outlined in the Asylum and
Immigration Act due to be implemented over the coming months.
“The new offences of destroying documents and failing to
co-operate with re-documentation and subsequent removal should act
both as a deterrent, as we continue to crack down on unfounded
applications for asylum, and help us remove those who have no right
to be in the UK,” said David Blunkett.
The home secretary added that many criminal people traffickers
tell asylum seekers to destroy their documents and mislead
“We are sending a clear signal to people coming into this
country,” he continued. “If you are a genuine asylum
seeker you have nothing to fear by retaining your
“If you destroy those documents we will penalise you and
it will have an adverse impact on your claim for asylum,” he
Currently, more than 60 per cent of asylum seekers have no
documents and this is the single biggest barrier to dealing with
their claim and, if the claim is unfounded, to returning people to
their country of origin.
The government hopes that by the end of next year, the monthly
number of removals will exceed the number of unfounded
As a result, a new purpose built Immigration Removal centre at
Heathrow, Colnbrook, which will increase the capacity of the
removal estate from 900 in 1997 to 2,750 by March next year, will
officially open this week.