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The National Asylum Support Service (NASS) currently does not hold statistics on the location of asylum seekers before they are dispersed by NASS. Statistics are only available on the areas that asylum seekers are dispersed to.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what assessment he has made of the case for increasing the length of time given to asylum seekers to complete statement of evidence forms; 
(3) what assessment he has made of the impact of the introduction of statement of evidence forms on the numbers of asylum applications rejected on the grounds of non-compliance. 
Angela Eagle: We have received a number of representations from hon. Members and from non- governmental organisations (NGOs) about the length of time given to asylum seekers to complete their statement of evidence forms. There is concern that 10 working days is insufficient time for an asylum seeker to find help completing the detailed Statement of Evidence Form (SEF) in English, and to gather and translate evidence in support of the application.
Asylum seekers are expected to comply with the asylum process and I consider the length of time given to asylum seekers to complete the SEFs to be reasonable. The original 14 day time limit for the return of the SEF was changed to 10 working days, so applicants are not disadvantaged by public holidays.
We do not propose therefore to increase the current 10 day time limit. Most asylum applicants do return their SEF on time. Discretion is exercised where applicants need extra time to obtain translations or submit extra material, such as a medical report, in support of their claim.
A higher proportion of applications was refused on grounds of non-compliance in 1999 and 2000 than had previously been the case. The increase was due partly to the stricter enforcement of the 10 day deadline for return
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of the SEF and partly to administrative problems which led to a backlog of correspondence within the Immigration and Nationality Directorate and some flawed refusals as a consequence. We have made a number of changes over the past 12 months to improve our administrative processes and reduce flawed refusals. These include the introduction of a dedicated PO Box for the return of completed SEFs, and adjustments to internal procedures to ensure that the receipt of SEFs is registered on a database.
We have also taken steps to improve asylum applicants' understanding of the asylum process and of the importance of meeting the time limit. We have done this by simplifying the explanatory leaflet which is sent out with the SEF, and by making it available in the 33 languages spoken by most asylum seekers in the United Kingdom. The SEF form has also been simplified. NGOs were consulted about these improvements.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many (a) asylum applications and (b) asylum applications rejected on the grounds of non-compliance there have been in each month of the last three years, indicating the (i) monthly and (ii) yearly change expressed as a percentage; 
Non-compliance refusals rose by over 21 times in 2000, due to seven times as many refusals and a three times higher proportion of refusals on non-compliance grounds. Provisional figures show the proportion of refusals made on non-compliance grounds has fallen from 32 per cent. in 2000 to 25 per cent. in the first seven months of 2001.
Immigration Appellate Authority (IAA) statistics show the number of asylum 'cases in progress' increased by 168 per cent. over the past 15 months. From 7,735 cases awaiting a final promulgation at the end of June 2000, outstanding cases have risen to 20,751 at the end of September 2001. This is due to the increase in asylum appeals received from the Immigration and Nationality Directorate over the same period, during which the IAA also expanded.
|Month/year||Asylum applications||Percentage change on previous month/year||Total refusals||Non-compliance refusals(10)||Percentage change on previous month/year||Non-compliance percentage of total refusals|
(8) Exclude cases decided under the backlog clearance exercise, aimed at reducing the pre-1996 asylum application backlog.
(9) Figures (other than percentages) rounded to the nearest five.
(10) Failure to provide evidence to support the asylum claim within a reasonable period, including failure to respond to invitation to interview to establish identity.
(11) 2000 and 2001 data are provisional
(12) 2001-January to July
(13) Not available
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Act 1993. However, the introduction of a computerised fingerprint storage system in December 2000 has allowed for the quick and effective electronic checking of prints of all asylum seekers against the Immigration and Nationality Directorate's records. Remote checking of fingerprints has been made possible which was not the case under the paper system. The introduction of smart cards will build on this technology to tackle fraud.
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Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average time taken was from first application to initial decision in asylum cases in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. 
Angela Eagle: For decisions made in the 12 months to July 2001, the average time between application and initial decision was 15 months. This average includes older cases decided as part of the reduction of the number of cases outstanding (see table).
|Average time in months(15)||Number of cases(15),(16)|
|Application pre 1996(17)||80||3,315|
(14) Calculated using all available data from the date the application is lodged to the date of the initial decision
(15) These data are still subject to revision following quality checking
(16) Figures are provisional and rounded to the nearest five. The number of cases quoted differs from published figures due to uncertainty concerning date of application in a small minority of cases
(17) Cases decided as part of the backlog clearance exercise, as part of measures outlined in the July 1998 White paper entitled "Fairer, Faster and FirmerA Modern Approach to Immigration and Asylum"
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cases were waiting to be processed by the Appeals Tribunal in each month of the last three years, indicating the (a) monthly and (b) yearly change expressed as a percentage. 
|Number of cases||Percentage change|
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