Skip to main content
Skip to main content

Free Movement publishes guide for journalists as counterpoint to recent Government briefings about a ‘broken’ asylum system


Colin Yeo says recent announcements coming out of Home Office are largely cover for internal problems

Date of Publication:
23 March 2021

Free Movement publishes guide for journalists as counterpoint to recent Government briefings about a ‘broken’ asylum system

23 March 2021

Ahead of tomorrow's big announcement by the Government of a 'New Plan for Immigration' (see our earlier piece here), Garden Court barrister and Free Movement editor Colin Yeo has today published a notable new guide for journalists, designed to act as an objective counterpoint to the recent briefings coming out of the Government about the state of the asylum system.

Free MovementYou can read the short guide here on the Free Movement website.

Colin Yeo says that while the Home Secretary may talk of a 'broken asylum system bedevilled by endless appeals', the figures paint a very different picture.

The Free Movement guide notes that asylum claims and asylum appeals are both at low levels compared to the recent past. An increase in the number of people crossing the English Channel attracted headlines last year, but the overall number of asylum claims fell by 20% in 2020 compared to 2019.

In addition, Yeo notes the number of immigration judicial reviews has fallen sharply in recent years, as has legal aid spending on immigration and asylum cases since 2010.

Yeo states: "The Home Office paints a picture of an immigration system bedevilled by endless appeals. In fact appeal rights have been slashed for years: the number of cases lodged with the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) peaked at over 200,000 in 2008/09 and has fallen every year since. Appeals are now around one fifth the rate of a decade ago, at 40,000-45,000 a year."

Many of those appeals, Yeo notes, are successful (for example, 48% in the First-tier Tribunal succeeded in 2019/20).

Accompanying this, however, has been a fall in both enforced and voluntary returns, to the point where the Home Office is removing historically low levels of people. For example, the Free Movement guide notes that returns involving the most serious category of foreign national offenders almost halved from 10,000 in 2015 to 5,600 in 2019.

"It seems," Yeo says, "that the Home Office has itself put less of an emphasis on removals, whether by design (in view of the Windrush scandal) or due to its own administrative failings."

Yeo added on Twitter that internal Home Office delays have also led to a large increase in the number of asylum seekers waiting for an initial decision over the last three years.

According to the Free Movement guide, much of the current noise coming out of the Government about a broken asylum system should therefore be seen as "cover for problems that the current management of the Home Office has caused."

In an article in the Guardian today highlighting the Home Office's increasing use of costly charter flights, the Minister for Immigration Compliance and Justice, Chris Philp, was quoted as saying that the Government's new plan for immigration is intended to "stop the abuse of the system and expedite the removal of those who have no right to be here."