In response to the publication of the Home Office asylum and immigration statistics for the second quarter of 2010, Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
“We are pleased the government is currently looking to improve the asylum system, but these statistics show how important it is that they acknowledge some of the serious failings of the asylum process.
“Too often people seeking safety in the UK are let down by the asylum system – these figures show that almost a third of appeals are still being allowed, proving a significant proportion of initial asylum claims are being wrongly refused*. With the government proposing further cuts to legal aid for asylum seekers, we are concerned that without legal advice, many more will be wrongly refused protection and returned to countries where their lives are in danger.
“The detention figures are also cause for alarm: up to 40% of people detained were later released back into their community showing that detaining them was unnecessary in the first place. Detention must only be used as a last resort, and for the shortest time possible.
“We now urge the government to focus on improving the first stages of the asylum system, to ensure people are supported throughout the process so that the right decisions are made first time. Not only will this save public money by getting people out of the system faster and avoiding costly legal challenges, this will also ensure people who have fled horrors in their own countries can start rebuilding their lives here.”
*This figure is almost half for Somali asylum seekers (49%) and Zimbabwean asylum seekers (48%)