The National Audit Office today released its report into the operation of the New Asylum Model (NAM). The NAM was introduced in April 2006, to overhaul the way decisions were made on asylum claims. Key changes were that a single case owner would be assigned to each claim for asylum, and that decisions would be made within a shorter time period and would improve in quality.
The report concluded that while some improvements had been made, there were still significant flaws in the system. These related to the quality of decisions, the efficiency of the system, and the level of removals. They point out that there is no mechanism for reversing wrong decisions, leading to unacceptably high levels of successful appeals.
In response to the National Audit Office report into the New Asylum Model, Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
“It is disappointing, but not surprising, that the National Audit Office has come to these conclusions. The point of the NAM was to get decisions right, and inject some efficiency into the asylum system, most importantly so that refugees are given safety more quickly and are able to get on with rebuilding their lives, but also to identify those that don’t need it and deal with them fairly.
“At the Refugee Council, we have first hand experience of the problems with the current system, from case owners not being present all the way through the process, through to people not being able to access legal advice before their main interview. Apart from the fact that for many people, this is a matter of life and death, if decisions are wrong because of a lack of legal representation people will be in the system for longer, something no-one wants. There is no provision in the NAM of identifying and reversing incorrect decisions.
“We recognise that there have been some improvements as a result of the NAM. But a lot more needs to be done to ensure that refugees are identified and protected. And detaining people is not the answer. Making the NAM work, with the case owner involved from the outset, and good quality legal advice, will help to get decisions right, and ease the process of removal for people who have no need of safety here.”