Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex 20



  The Oakington Reception Centre opened on 20 March 2000 and is designated as a place of detention. Its purpose is to deal quickly and fairly with straightforward asylum claims, many of which prove to be unfounded. Applications are considered and decided within about seven days. Legal advice is available at the centre to ensure examination of the claim is fast and through. If cases are certified as manifestly unfounded, the Immigration Appellate Authority will aim to deal with any appeal within three weeks. All cases will be tracked to ensure that if the appeal is dismissed swift action is taken to arrange for the individuals to be removed from the country.

  The centre, when fully operation, will be able to hold up to 400 asylum seekers and accommodate families as well as single applicants. At full capacity it will be able to deal with up to 13,000 applicants a year.

2 + 4.

  The Immigration and Asylum White Paper (July 1998) set a target that, from April 2001, most initial decisions on asylum applications are to be made within two months and most appeals decided within a further four months. We remain committed to that target which is already being met for family cases.


  Substantial new resources are being committed to speed up the asylum process: About 300 extra asylum decision makers have been recruited, and hundreds more are planned. New procedures are being piloted in respect of both port and in-country asylum applications. Measures have been introduced which aim to obtain the maximum amount of information from asylum claimants at the outset. These, together with enhanced computer links between ports and Croydon, have reduced the stages and time in the decision-making process.


  There are currently too many avenues of appeal. The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 includes provisions for a single, comprehensive right of appeal which will reduce the scope for delay. These provisions are due to be implemented on 2 October 2000 when the Human Rights Act is also due to come into effect.

  To ensure that the Independent Appellate Authority (IAA) will be able to deal effectively with the increase in appeals (resulting from increased output of asylum decisions by IND) the Lord Chancellor's Department has taken the following action:

    —  The recruitment of 63 more part-time judges in February this year;

    —  The planned recruitment of 44 full-time and 56 part-time adjudicators;

    —  Adjudicator sittings will increase from 8,000 last year to 24,000 in 2000-01;

    —  8 full-time Immigration Appeal Tribunal chairmen;

    —  14 part-time legal members;

    —  12 lay IAT members;

    —  Tribunal sittings in 2000-01 will increase from 2,400 to 3,859; and

    —  To match the increased workload 320 new staff to supplement the current 250 are being recruited.


Caseworker at Ports Pilot (Heathrow)

The aim of the pilots at Heathrow was to test new processes supporting speedier decision making in new asylum cases, involving the targeting of straightforward applications and examining the improvements that can be made by extending the ICD's IT links to the ports.

Reasons for Refusal Letter Exercise (Heathrow and Gatwick)

  This was an exercise to clear a backlog of asylum decisions which had not been served on the applications. It was centred principally at Heathrow, (Terminals 3 and 4) and latterly at Gatwick. 4,700 decisions were served between 2 April and 29 April and the backlog was successfully cleared.

Gatwick Interview Exercise (Fresh Start)

  This initiative was introduced to address the backlog of interviews relating to asylum applications received at ports in the South East. As a result around 8,000 cases were dealt with by Immigration Service staff at Gatwick. The papers on these cases have now been passed to trained caseworkers in the Integrated Casework Directorate in Croydon to make the asylum decision

Decisions made at Port Pilot (Dover)

  The aim of this pilot is to test fast trace procedures for identifying and processing asylum applications which appear to be without substance and to use immigration officers to make asylum decisions. Nationality is used as a way of identifying cases to be examined for whether they appear to be manifestly unfounded; but as now, each claim is considered on its individual merits.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 31 January 2001