CURRENT ASYLUM INITIATIVES
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
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
14 part-time legal 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
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
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