Inspector’s report 'exposes failures to make fair and timely asylum decisions'

By Agencies
November 29, 2017

The Home Office has published a report by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration which looked at Asylum Intake and Casework – the process for dealing with asylum claims up to the point of initial decision. The report finds people are waiting longer for their claims to be processed and highlights issues with the quality of decision-making.

The Inspection team talked to a range of stakeholders, looked at case files and interviewed decision makers and their managers. In some cases decision makers said they felt inadequately prepared to do their job – not able to decide whether or not someone should be allowed to stay in the UK as a refugee or sent back to their country of origin. The Home Office’s own audits showed that of 25 per cent failed to meet the ‘satisfactory’ standard.

The Chief Inspector David Bolt said, “The Home Office devotes significant resources to managing asylum claims. Nonetheless, it continues to struggle to keep on top of the volumes of claims it receives. In 2016-17, despite the evident commitment and hard work of those involved, high staff turnover, prolonged staffing gaps and inexperience caused problems that were not easily or quickly fixed.

“As a consequence, the number of claims awaiting an initial decision rose during the year, as did the proportion deemed ‘non-straightforward’ and therefore set outside the published service standard of sox months for a decision. The inspection also found issues with decision quality. Given the life-changing nature of asylum decisions, the Home Office’s performance needs to improve."

Refugee Action welcomed the report. Stephen Hale, chief executive of Refugee Action, said, “This report must be a turning point. It exposes the Home Office’s failure to make fair and timely decisions for far too many people seeking asylum. Poor decision-making and delays are leaving families facing years of uncertainty, taking a tremendous toll on the wellbeing of people who have fled conflict and persecution. This has to change, and fast.

“Recent figures show an alarming increase of more than 50 per cent in the number of people waiting longer than six months for their claim to be processed. During this time, people are unable to work and struggle to survive on just £5.28 a day.

“People who come to Britain for our protection must have access to a fair and effective asylum system.”

Judith Dennis, Policy Manager at the Refugee Council said, “This Inspection has revealed shocking findings with regard to lengthy delays and poor quality decisions. Too much focus on meeting targets with perverse outcomes means that some people seeking protection have to wait unbearably long to hear of their fate. Many of those who can ill afford to be putting their lives on hold, particularly children, have been side-lined for too long. Even more alarming is the rate of incorrect decisions being made; the Home Secretary must sit up and take note of these findings and ensure that no-one is in danger of being sent back to harm as a result of these mistakes.”

Read the inspection report here

* Home Office https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/home-office

* Refugee Council https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/

* Refugee Action http://www.refugee-action.org.uk/

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