On Thursday, Immigration Minister Damian Green made his first speech on asylum to the National Asylum Stakeholders’ Forum (NASF). As well as commending the improvements made to the asylum system under the coalition government, he spoke of plans for the future to ensure decisions on asylum cases are right first time and to increase public confidence in the system. He also quoted the recent Refugee Council opinion poll that showed the UK is proud to protect refugees.
Here are a few extracts from Damian Green’s speech:
“In this country we are rightly proud that we offer protection to those fleeing persecution. The Refugee Council’s recent polling showed that over 80% of Britons believe that protecting the most vulnerable is a core British value and two thirds declare themselves sympathetic to refugees coming to Britain. It is my ambition that we should have an asylum system of which we can be equally proud.
“…Our plans to transform the asylum system will see further improvements across the board. More compassionate, higher quality, faster, more efficient, lower cost – and commanding greater public confidence.
“…We are determined to improve the gender sensitivity of our asylum system. The right guidance to our caseowners, of course, which recognises that forms of persecution experienced by women are often very different to those experienced by men. But also the right training and support so that caseowners take the right approach to handling cases of heightened sensitivity, particularly where gender-related violence is at issue.”
In conclusion, he added:
“Overall, the asylum system is in a healthier condition than it was a year ago. It is more balanced, more efficient and more compassionate. We have built the foundations for lasting reform, in which the public can have confidence, but I am not complacent. It will take time and there will be times when we will disagree about the best way forward, but I believe that if we work together, we can make our asylum system one of which we can all be proud.”
In response, Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
“We welcome Damian Green’s reflections today on the changes to the asylum system since last year, particularly the commitment to increasing the quality of decisions on asylum cases to ensure the right decisions are made first time. Too many initial refusals are still overturned at appeal, so improving the decision-making process is vital to ensure more people that need protection can get it. In addition, we look forward to seeing an asylum system that is more sensitive to the needs of women, and the end to the detention of children once and for all as a matter of urgency.
“There is no doubting this year has been a good start for the coalition government, but it is now time to make their commitment to create a compassionate and effective asylum system a reality.”