The Work of the UK Border Agency (April--June 2012) - Home Affairs Committee Contents


4  New asylum cases

Key Figures



Asylum applications

54. Asylum applications and initial decisions for the year up to June 2012 can be seen in the table below.

Asylum applications and initial decisions for Main Applicants and Dependents, Q3 2011 - Q2 2012-10-22*[45]
2011 Q3
2011 Q4
2012 Q1
2012 Q2
Applications
6,591
6,868
6,192
6,224
Initial decisions
5,607
5,384
5,996
5,142
Grants
1,934
1,850
2,025
1,730
Refusals
3,673
3,534
3,978
3,412
Pending
16,457
16,907
15,378
15,749
Pending initial decision
7,941
8,857
8,399
9,188
Less than 6 months
4,686
5,625
4,790
4,756
More than 6 months
3,255
3,232
3,609
4,432
Pending further review
8,516
8,050
6,979
6,561

*Initial decisions and applications pending an initial decision do not necessarily relate to applications made in the same year.

55. There has been a small rise in the number of asylum applications made in the year up to June 2012 from the previous 12 month period.

56. The proportion of applicants granted asylum or a form of temporary protection (humanitarian protection or discretionary leave) at initial decision has increased to 35% (5,807) in the latest 12 months from 28% of applications made in the previous year. The Home Office say this is due to a large proportionate increase in the number of grants of asylum or temporary protection to nationals of Iran, an increase from 863 in the year ending June 2011 to 1,127 in the year ending June 2012.[46]

57. There are currently 9,188 asylum cases awaiting an initial decision. The number of cases waiting for a decision for longer than six months has risen by 36% in the year up to June 2012.

Assessing the Agency's performance: initial decisions

58. The number of asylum applications granted an initial decision within 30 days can be seen in the table below.

Number of adult asylum decisions made within 30 days, 2010-12[47]
Adult Asylum Applications
Decisions made in 30 days
% decided in 30 days
2010-11*
16,128
9,556
59.3%
Male
11,240
6,661
59.3%
Female
4,879
2,890
59.2%
Unknown
9
5
55.6%
2011-12
17,948
8,504
47.4%
Male
12,940
6,227
48.1%
Female
4,998
2,272
45.5%
Unknown
10
5
50.0%

*2010/11: Number of adult decisions made within 30 days of asylum application divided by total adult asylum

2011/12: Number of adult decisions made within 30 days of asylum application divided by total adult asylum

We can see that 47% of adult asylum applications made in the year 2011-12 received an initial decision in 30 days, this is a decrease from the previous year when nearly 60% of cases had an initial decision within 30 days. The fall in the number of cases decided within the 30 day timeframe coincides with a rise in the number of applications made. Mr Whiteman told this Committee that the Agency had "seen the figures on 30 days go in the right direction". We do not see how this can be the case when less initial decisions are made within 30 days than in the previous year.[48]

Assessing the Agency's performance: conclusions

CASES CONCLUDED WITHIN ONE YEAR

59. The Agency has maintained its previous performance on the proportion of applications concluded within one year, completing 64% of all applications within one year in the first quarter of 2012.

% of asylum applications concluded within 1 year[49]
2011-12
2012-13
All applicants
Quarter 2
Quarter 3
Quarter 4
Quarter 1
Total cohort*4,569 4,6944,924 4,844
Unsubstantiated claims 169178 155205
Conclusions? 2,8042,878 3,0242,988
% concluded in one year 64%64% 63%64%

*Cohort: the number of applications received in a month, based on main applicants only and excluding dependants and any fresh applications. The data relate to applications which were one year old in the quarter.

Unsubstantiated: When an individual claims asylum but then does not turn up for their interview to substantiate the grounds of their claim. Unsubstantiated claims are excluded from this calculation but other withdrawn claims are included.

?Conclusion: An asylum application is deemed to be concluded when: an asylum seeker has either been granted asylum, humanitarian protection, discretionary leave; or, if refused, has left the UK (voluntarily or by enforced removal); or the individual withdraws their asylum claim

CASES CONCLUDED WITHIN 36 MONTHS

60. The Agency has improved on the proportion of cases it resolves within three years, despite a rise in the number of applications it has had to process. We are pleased to see this progress but we would like to hear from the Agency what the main causes are for an asylum claim taking three years to complete. The Agency should provide us with a breakdown of the length of time it took to conclude the remaining 37% of cases still awaiting conclusion after 36 months in 2010-11 and how many remain outstanding as of the end of June 2012.


Percentage of asylum cases concluded within 36 months[50]
2010-11*
2011-12
Total cohort
24,308
27,787
Unsubstantiated claims
1,532
2,358
Conclusions within 36 months
14,268
17,677
% concluded within 36 months
63%
70%

*2010/11: Number of asylum conclusions within 36 mths of asylum application divided by the total cohort excluding unsubstantiated claims. Performance relates to cohorts that became 36 months old in 2010/11 - Apr 07 to Mar 08 cohorts

2011/12: Number of asylum conclusions within 36 mths of asylum application divided by the total cohort excluding unsubstantiated claims

Granting of asylum to those previously refused

61. A small number of individuals have been granted refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK this year having previously had their claims rejected. This amounts to six individuals in the first quarter of this year and seven in the second quarter.

62. The individuals concerned were from a number of countries: Albania, China, Eritrea, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The Agency says it cannot provide us with figures for how many individuals are nationals of each country because it could lead to a breach of the individuals data protection rights.[51]

63. We are concerned that people who may have strong cases for humanitarian protection are being returned to their country of origin where there may be a considerable risk that they will be tortured. The government has said that

Every asylum claim is carefully considered on its individual merits against the UK's obligations under the Refugee Convention and European Convention on Human Rights. Every applicant whose fundamental human rights would be contravened by returning to their home country is granted appropriate status in the UK.[52]

64. Since 13 people have been granted asylum this year after they had been previously refused and returned home it appears that a number of errors are being made in judging the merits of asylum cases. Of particular concern is the return of asylum seekers to Sri Lanka where charities such as Human Rights Watch have documented a number of cases of the torture of failed asylum seekers who have been returned by the UK between 2005 and 2011.[53] In its recent report on The FCO's Human Rights Work in 2011, the Foreign Affairs Committee raises concerns about widespread incidents of torture, enforced disappearances and deaths in detention that are reported to be taking place in Sri Lanka. It also described a reluctance on the part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to investigate vigorously allegations of torture made by failed Tamil asylum seekers on their return to Sri Lanka from the UK.[54]

65. The UK has responsibility under the UN Convention Against Torture to undertake thorough assessments of whether or not individuals returned to another state are in danger of being subjected to torture. We join the Foreign Affairs Committee in welcoming the establishment of a new official dialogue between the Agency, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Freedom from Torture and Human Rights Watch to discuss how the risk to those removed from the UK is assessed. We urge the Agency to use this dialogue to promote a thorough evaluation of the risks to Tamil asylum seekers being returned to Sri Lanka.

66. We will continue to monitor the number of individuals granted asylum after having previously had an application refused with a particular focus on individuals who have been returned to Sri Lanka. We expect the Agency to tell us what review processes they have in place to examine why the applications in question were initially refused when individuals have subsequently been found to have had a valid claim.



45   UKBA, Asylum performance framework measures, 2011-12, UK Border Agency Website, http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/aboutus/further-key-data/

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46   Home Office Immigration Statistics, April-June 2012, asylum tables, as.01.q and as.02.q Back

47   UKBA, Asylum performance framework measures, 2011-12, UK Border Agency Website, http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/aboutus/further-key-data/

 Back

48   Q88 Back

49   UKBA, Asylum performance framework measures, 2011-12, UK Border Agency Website, http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/aboutus/further-key-data/

 Back

50   Asylum Performance Framework Measures, UK Border Agency Website, http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/aboutus/further-key-data/ Back

51   Ev 29 Back

52   HC Deb, 18 June 2012, col 667W Back

53   Human rights Watch, Sri Lankan deportees allegedly tortured on return from the UK and other countries, August 2012, http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/related_material/UK%20Sri%20Lanka%20deportees%20tortured%20final.pdf Back

54   Foreign Affairs Committee, Third Report of Session 2012-2013, The FCO's Human Rights Work in 2011, HC 116, paras 53-58 Back


 
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Prepared 9 November 2012