More than 10,000 asylum seekers who have lived in Britain for more than seven years are still waiting for an initial Home Office decision on whether they can stay, a damning report reveals today.
In a bleak assessment of the state of Britain’s asylum system, the
Public Accounts Committee said
that the Home Office has still not resolved some 29,000 asylum applications dating back to 2007 and before, of which 11,000 have not even had an initial ruling on their claim.
Another backlog has been created by the department’s failure to keep on top of newer claims.
None of these problems will be fixed overnight. But the most concerning thing about today’s report is that there is little evidence that anyone is trying to fix them at all. Since the UK Border Agency was reintegrated within the Home Office last year, the number of claims awaiting a decision has increased by 70 per cent to 16,273.
Every case file is a human being who has come to Britain either because they have been persecuted or at the very least because they wanted a better life for themselves and their family.
The report comes at a sensitive time in the debate on immigration and asylum policy and at a time when it is especially dangerous to be an immigrant.
The Government was criticised yesterday for announcing it would no longer support search and rescue missions such as Italy’s Mare Nostrum operations, that help save migrants from drowning in the Mediterranean as they travel to Europe from Africa in often overloaded boats.
Michael Diedring, secretary general of the European Council on Refugees, told the BBC he was “disgusted” by the “morally reprehensible” EU and UK decision.
It is also embarrassing for the Home Secretary, Theresa May, as it comes a year after she took the decision to scrap the troubled UK Border’s Agency and bring its functions back in-house to improve performance.
Last week a National Audit Office report highlighted separate but similarly serious concerns about the immigration system,
warning that hundreds of foreign criminals
have gone missing in Britain before they could be deported.