UK gets lowest number of asylum pleas in 18 years

Woolas attributes it to effective border control in France.

25th march 2010:
The UK has received lowest number of asylum applications in 18 years. Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas has largely attributed this effective border control in France.

‘In 2009, officers working at our border controls in France searched over one million lorries, and stopped 29,000 individual attempts to cross the channel illegally. Our last set of asylum application figures was the lowest for 18 years, in part because of these controls.’

The assertion comes at a time when the decisions on asylum cases have risen 36 per cent, compared to the same quarter in 2008. The grant rate for asylum too has fallen to 13 per cent. (See:

Woolas made the statement after the official opening of Joint Operational Coordination Centre (JOCC) by Woolas and the French Minister for Immigration, Eric Besson. JOCC was set up following the Evian Summit of G8 countries last July, and is aimed at further improving “the strong relationship between the UK and France”.

It allows greater intelligence sharing, a joint approach to border security, and inter-agency operations to counter illegal migration and break up international human trafficking rings.

The centre, opened in February this year, has already proved successful: Joint operations have led to the arrest of two women attempting to traffic a girl to the UK for prostitution, and a truck driver intercepted with 36kg of tobacco.

The UKBA claimed: Cooperation between Calais-based UK Border Agency officers and their French counterparts has already created one of the strongest borders in the world. In the last five years, officers have stopped around 61,000 individual attempts to enter the UK illegally. (Also see:

Woolas added: ‘The Joint Operational Coordination Centre is one of the best examples of joint national border control in the world. We are driving home the message that illegal migration will not be tolerated, and by working with France we have made our border stronger than ever.

‘The centre allows us to share intelligence and carry out joint operations. It comes as part of the £15 million investment that Britain pledged last year to increase searches of vehicles and goods heading for Britain’.

Officers from the UK Border Agency, Police Aux Frontières (PAF), Douanes and the Calais Chamber of Investment and Commerce (CCIC) will work together at the centre.

At July’s Evian summit, the UK committed £15 million to pay for state-of-the-art technology as part of a pilot in Calais, which has boosted searches of vehicles and goods heading for Britain. Last year alone, the UK Border Agency seized illegal drugs worth over £237 million and stopped over 27,000 dangerous weapons – including firearms, stun guns and knives – from reaching the streets.

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