Delays and dodgy decisions
Chief Inspector finds much room for improvement in Home Office’s asylum casework
The Home Office today published a report by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration which looked at Asylum Intake and Casework i.e. the process for dealing with asylum claims up to the point of initial decision. The Inspection team talked to a range of stakeholders, looked at case files and interviewed decision makers and their managers. In some cases decision makers said they felt inadequately prepared to do their job i.e. not able to decide whether or not someone should be allowed to stay in the UK as a refugee or sent back to their country of origin. The Home Office’s own audits showed that of 25% failed to meet the ‘satisfactory’ standard.
The Inspection also revealed what far too many people seeking asylum know all too well; that once a claim has been outstanding for more than six months, they may not receive a decision for far longer. Out of a sample of 121 pregnant women, seventeen were still waiting on an initial decision two years after lodging their claim. Other groups more likely to wait a long time for initial decisions are unaccompanied children, an issue which the Refugee Council’s Children’s Section has been aware of for some time. The Chief Inspector calls for the perverse consequences of these targets to be addressed and the Home Office has agreed to look into this issue.
Judith Dennis, Policy Manager at the Refugee Council said in response:
“This Inspection has revealed shocking findings with regard to lengthy delays and poor quality decisions. Too much focus on meeting targets with perverse outcomes means that some people seeking protection have to wait unbearably long to hear of their fate. Many of those who can ill afford to be putting their lives on hold, particularly children, have been side-lined for too long. Even more alarming is the rate of incorrect decisions being made; the Home Secretary must sit up and take note of these findings and ensure that no-one is in danger of being sent back to harm as a result of these mistakes.”