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HOME DEPARTMENT

Open Prisons

Mr. French: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what criteria are applied to assess the suitability of prisoners in an open prison for work carried out in the community as part of their rehabilitation. [1083]

Miss Widdecombe: Prisoners who are held in open prisoners are thoroughly assessed to ensure that they do not pose a risk to the public. Open prisons will allocate prisoners to work in the local community only when this is considered to be of benefit to both the community and to the prisoner. Particular attention is always paid to the offences committed by the prisoner and to his or her background as part of this process. The overriding concern in such allocation is always the safety of the public; if such concern exists, the prisoner does not undertake work in the community, and may be transferred to a closed and more secure prison.

Mr. French: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what procedures exist to assess a prisoner's suitability for transfer to an open prison; who is responsible for their implementation; and what assessment he has made of their effectiveness. [1084]

Miss Widdecombe: Determinate sentence prisoners must be reallocated to the lowest security category before their transfer from a closed to an open prison. This involves an assessment of any risk posed to the public by the prisoner, together with the risk of escape or abscond. Such reallocation and transfer will take place only if the staff of the closed prison are satisfied that the prisoner is not a risk to the public and is not likely to escape or abscond. The prisoner will undergo a further risk assessment at the open prison to ensure that he or she is suitable for open conditions.

31 Oct 1996 : Column: 202

The governors of the closed prisons transferring prisoners to open prisons and the governors of the open prisons themselves are responsible for the implementation of these procedures.

Life sentence prisoners who are considered suitable for open conditions require both a favourable recommendation from the Parole Board and the authority of a Minister, who considers detailed reports on each individual case before making a decision.

The allocation of all prisoners to open conditions is kept under continual review.

Prisons

Mr. Chris Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list all (a) planned new prisons and (b) detention centres to be financed through (i) public capital expenditure and (ii) the private finance initiative. [55]

Miss Widdecombe: Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange a reply to be given.

Letter from Richard Tilt to Mr. Chris Davies, dated 31 October 1996:

The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the planned number of new prisons and detention centres to be financed through public capital expenditure and the private finance initiative.


Asylum Seekers

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many people who had applied at some stage for asylum were detained in Birmingham prison during (a) July, (b) August and (c) September; and what were the nationalities of those detained; [1037]

Mr. Kirkhope: The available information on asylum seekers detained in Her Majesty's prison Birmingham is given in the table.

There were no failed asylum seekers recorded as being deported from Her Majesty's prison Birmingham during each of the months July to September 1996.

This does not include asylum seekers removed as illegal entrants.

31 Oct 1996 : Column: 203

Asylum seekers detained(5) at Her Majesty's prison Birmingham as at 31 July, 4 September and 1 October by nationality

Nationality31 July4 September1 October
India181514
Nigeria----6
Algeria554
Pakistan--3--
Others(6)432
Total272626

(5) Persons detained solely under the powers contained in schedules 2 or 3 of the Immigration Act 1971. In some cases the asylum application will have been lodged subsequent to the applicant being detained. The figures include asylum applicants detained in after-entry enforcement work and those awaiting removal following refusal of asylum, as well as those whose applications were under consideration or subject to appeal.

(6) The "Others" category may include nationalities already listed.


Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to declare a country as one in which there has been a fundamental change of circumstances under the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996. [972]

Miss Widdecombe: My right hon. and learned Friend has no plans at present to declare that any country has undergone a major upheaval such that we would not seek to return people there for the time being.

Dr. Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what were the total number of asylum seekers held in detention at the end of (a) June, (b) July, (c) August and (d) September; in which establishments they were held; what were the nationalities of those detained; what were the gender of those detained; and how many were deported and from which establishments. [1044]

Mr. Kirkhope: The available information on asylum seekers detained, and on those deported from detention, is given in the tables. The number deported does not include those who are removed as illegal entrants or under port refusal procedures.

Number(7) of asylum detainees deported(8) during June, July, August and September

Number of deported asylum detainees
June11
July6
August7
September3

(7) Provisional figures.

(8) Removed under the deport process, including those removed voluntarily prior to the initiation of deportation action.


Table 1: Number of people recorded as detailed on 17 June, 31 July, 4 September , and 1 October 1996(9) who sought asylum at some stage, by gender

GenderAs at 27 JuneAs at 31 JulyAs at 4 SeptemberAs at 1 October
Male720716727783
Female52608281
Total772776809864

(9) These figures include people who have been in detention for less than a month. Because of the delay in recording receptions into, and releases from, detention and the large number of persons detained for a short period, the figures should be used with caution.


31 Oct 1996 : Column: 204

Table 2: Number of people recorded as detained on 27 June, 31 July, 4 September, and 1 October 1996(10) who had sought asylum at some stage, by location of detention

As atAs atAs atAs at
27 June31 July4 September1 October
Prisons
HMP Rochester154146148154
HMP Haslar9911210797
HMP Birmingham37272626
HMP Wormwood Scrubs1261114
HMP Magilligan8777
HMP Manchester2--65
HMP Bristol6344
HMP Wandsworth4623
HMP Greenock5563
HMP Holloway------2
HMP Doncaster2222
HMP Brixton2--22
HMP Belmarsh------2
Other prison(11)20261822
Other Places of Detention
Campsfield House151151170173
Tinsley House456896119
Harmondsworth102898291
Meadvale Buildings36353338
Police Cells27333533
Port--8819
Queens Building13101515
Dover Harbour1014714
Manchester Airport Detention Suite61177
Other Place of Detention(11)31171712
Total772776809864

(10) These figures include people who have been in detention for less than a month. Because of the delay in recording receptions into, and releases from, detention and the large number of persons detained for a short period, the figures should be used with caution.

(11) The 'Others' categories may include places of detention already listed.


Table 3: Number of people recorded as detained on 27 June, 31 July, 4 September, and 1 October 1996(12), who had sought asylum at some stage, by nationality

NationalityAs at 27 JuneAs at 31 JulyAs at 4 SeptemberAs at 1 October
Nigeria106106110112
India101969195
Algeria75706563
Ghana52566058
Sri Lanka43454748
China Peoples Republic of32353944
Zaire38434844
Turkey35394742
Columbia15111035
Pakistan25353534
Angola16161823
Bangladesh18171618
Romania23332018
Cyprus761217
Gambia27161616
Israel------15
Iran1191113
Jamaica58810
Ethiopia6899
Yugoslavia96129
Russia6568
Sierra Leone6478
Uganda4348
Kenya6497
Liberia4597
Lithuania5447
Ivory Coast6776
Poland6865
Somalia9665
Equador8634
Lebanon3234
Sudan3--44
Tanzania4434
Bulgaria----23
Egypt2223
El Salvador----33
Morocco2----3
Albania3232
Nationality Doubtful(12)610811
Others(13)45494639
Total772776809864

(12) These figures include people who have been in detention for less than a month. Because of the delay in recording receptions into, and releases from, detention and the large number of persons detained for a short period, the figures should be used with caution.

(13) The 'Others' category may include nationalities already listed.


31 Oct 1996 : Column: 205

Mr. Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will provide a breakdown of the number of asylum seekers currently detained under Immigration Act powers by (i) nationality, (ii) gender, (iii) place of detention, (iv) length of detention and (v) immigration status at the time of application. [882]

Mr. Kirkhope: The information requested on detained asylum seekers is given in the tables.

Table 1: Number of people recorded as detained on 1 October 1996(14) who had sought asylum at some stage, by gender and immigration status

GenderPortIllegal entrantsSubject to deportation orderTotal
Male48125844783
Female6214581
Total54327249864

(14) These figures include people who have been in detention for less than a month. Because of the delay in recording receptions into, and releases from, detention and the large number of persons detained for a short period, the figures should be used with caution.


Table 2: Number of people recorded as detained on 1 October 1996(15) who had sought asylum at some stage, by stage of application and immigration status

Stage of application Port Illegal Entrants Subject to deportation orderTotal
Awaiting initial decision157538218
Awaiting result of appeal25613932427
Awaiting removal after refusal130809219
Total54327249864

(15) These figures include people who have been in detention for less than a month. Because of the delay in recording receptions into, and releases from, detention and the large number of persons detained for a short period, the figures should be used with caution.


31 Oct 1996 : Column: 206

Table 3: Number of people recorded as detained on 1 October 1996(16) who had sought asylum at some stage, by length of detention and immigration status

Length Port Illegal entrants Subject to deportation orderTotal
0-1 Month(16)154864244
1-2 Months845614154
2-6 Months1969520311
6-12 Months90256121
12 Months +1910534
Total54327249864

(16) These figures include people who have been in detention for less than a month. Because of the delay in recording receptions into, and releases from, detention and the large number of persons detained for a short period, the figures should be used with caution.


Table 4: Number of people recorded as detained on 1 October 1996(17) who had sought asylum at some stage, by nationality and immigration status

Nationality Port Illegal entrants Subject to deportation orderTotal
Nigeria732613112
India2069695
Algeria2137563
Ghana4016258
Sri Lanka3017148
China Peoples Rep of359044
Zaire374344
Turkey347142
Columbia323035
Pakistan1417334
Angola174223
Bangladesh98118
Romania414018
Cyprus170017
Gambia131216
Israel150015
Iran93113
Jamaica43310
Ethiopia5319
Russia3508
Yugoslavia5409
Sierra Leone5218
Uganda6118
Kenya5207
Liberia7007
Lithuania6107
Ivory Coast5106
Poland3205
Somalia5005
Ecuador4004
Lebanon2204
Sudan4004
Tanzania4004
Bulgaria2103
Egypt0213
Morocco1113
El Salvador3003
Albania2002
Other317139
Nationality Doubtful110011
Total54327249864

(17) These figures include people who have been in detention for less than a month. Because of the delay in recording receptions into, and releases from, detention and the large number of persons detained for a short period, the figures should be used with caution.


31 Oct 1996 : Column: 207

Table 5: Number of people recorded as detained on 1 October 1996(18) who had sought asylum at some stage, by location of detention and immigration status

Port Illegal entrants Subject to deportation orderTotal
Prisons
HMP Rochester974314154
HMP Haslar5438597
HMP Birmingham817126
HMP Wormwood Scrubs311014
HMP Magilligan0707
HMP Manchester0505
HMP Bristol0404
HMP Wandsworth0123
HMP Greenock0303
HMP Holloway1012
HMP Doncaster0202
HMP Brixton0202
HMP Belmarsh1102
Other135422
Other Places of Detention
Campsfield House116489173
Tinsley House80318119
Harmondsworth6423491
Meadvale Buildings335038
Police Cells923133
Port190019
Queens Building150015
Dover Harbour140014
Manchester Airport Detention Suite4307
Other120012
Total54327249864

(18) These figures include people who have been in detention for less than a month. Because of the delay in recording receptions into, and releases from, detention and the large number of persons detained for a short period, the figures should be used with caution.


Mr. Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many substantive asylum appeals to immigration appellate authority special adjudicators have been (i) allowed, (ii) dismissed and (iii) withdrawn in 1996 to date. [884]

Mr. Kirkhope: Provisional information shows that, of the estimated 9,070 substantive asylum appeals determined by special adjudicators between January and September 1996, 3 per cent. were allowed, 81 per cent. were dismissed and 16 per cent. were withdrawn.

Mr. Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum applications are currently awaiting an initial decision by his Department's asylum directorate; and how many of these applications were made prior to July 1993. [885]

Mr. Kirkhope: As at 30 September 1996, there were 60,275 asylum applications awaiting an initial decision, of which an estimated 27,900 were made prior to the implementation of the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993. Work is currently in hand to revise this estimate.

Mr. Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements his Department has made to expedite initial decisions on asylum applications in those cases where the applicant is detained under Immigration Act powers; and what is the current average time taken by his Department to reach an initial decision in such cases. [887]

31 Oct 1996 : Column: 208

Mr. Kirkhope: Statistics on the average time taken to decide cases where the applicant is detained are not available. However, all such cases are given priority consideration within the asylum directorate, with many applications being determined within days.

Mr. Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what is the average time currently taken by his Department to reach an initial decision on (i) asylum applications submitted prior to implementation of the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993, (ii) asylum applications submitted since implementation of the 1993 Act and (iii) all asylum applications; [889]

Mr. Kirkhope: Information on the times taken at the various stages of the asylum process are given in the table.

Average times involved in deciding applications for asylum (March-August 1996)

Months
Time taken for an initial decision to be made (Pre-act applications)44.8
Time taken for an initial decision to be made (Post-act applications)11.6
Time taken by the Home Office to process an appeal1.4
Time taken by the Immigration Appellate Authority to determine an appeal8.1

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consideration he has given to declaring Sri Lanka a country in which there has been a fundamental change of circumstances under the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 following the upsurge of fighting in September. [974]

Miss Widdecombe: We do not believe that the continuing hostilities in Sri Lanka constitute such a fundamental change in the circumstances there as to justify my right hon. and learned Friend declaring that the country has undergone a major upheaval.

The hostilities since May 1995 have been sporadic and confined largely to the north and east of the country. Most reports suggest that conditions elsewhere in the country remain reasonably safe and normal.

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consideration he has given to declaring Afghanistan a country in which there has been a fundamental change of circumstances under the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 since the capture of Kabul by Taliban. [973]

Miss Widdecombe: We do not believe that the recent developments in Afghanistan constitute such a fundamental change in the circumstances as to justify my right hon. and learned Friend declaring that the country has undergone a major upheaval.

Afghanistan has been in a state of civil unrest for a number of years. The fall of Kabul to Taliban is part of this long-term continuing conflict.

31 Oct 1996 : Column: 209

Mr. Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons, having been refused asylum, have (i) been removed and (ii) made a voluntary departure from the United Kingdom in 1996 to date. [886]

Mr. Kirkhope: Provisional information shows that, during the period January to September 1996, there have been 2,810 removals--including voluntary departures--of persons refused asylum.

Mr. Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for asylum, by persons applying (a) at a port of entry to the United Kingdom and (b) after entry have been decided in 1996 to date; and how many in each category have been granted (i) asylum and (ii) exceptional leave to remain. [888]

Mr. Kirkhope: The information requested is given in the table.

Decisions(19) on applications(19) received for asylum in the United Kingdom, excluding dependants, January to September 1996
Number of principal applicants

Applied at portApplied in-countryTotal
Asylum applications(20)8,28013,24021,520
Decisions(21)10,38518,17028,550
Recognised as a refugee and granted asylum3801,1851,565
Not recognised as a refugee but granted exceptional leave to remain(22)1,4302,1603,595
Total refusals8,57514,82023,395
Refused asylum and ELR after full consideration7,61013,24520,855
Refused on safe third country grounds(23)965501,015
Refused on non-compliance grounds(24)--1,5301,530

(19)Provisional figures rounded to the nearest five.

(20)Figures exclude information on applications made overseas.

(21)Decisions do not necessarily relate to applications made in the period.

(22)Usually granted for a year in the first instance, subject then to further review.

(23)Refused on the grounds that the applicant had arrived from a safe third country.

(24)Paragraph 340 of Immigration Rules. For failure to provide evidence to support the asylum claim within a reasonable period, including failure to respond to invitation to interview to establish identity.



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