`More than 220,000 cases concluded’
8th December 2009: The UK Border Agency hopes to clear the backlog of asylum cases expeditiously.
Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas says, “We are now looking at whether we can clear the backlog earlier than summer 2011”.
Woolas adds: ‘The UK Border Agency is continuing to make progress in dealing with the legacy backlog of older asylum cases, and has already concluded more than 220,000 cases”.
The assertion is significant as the Government had earlier claimed that “pending cases of asylum seekers will be cleared by 2011”.
It comes in response to a report from the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee on the work of the UK Border Agency.
The report focuses on many elements of the agency’s work, including the processing of older asylum applications, known as ‘legacy cases’, and addresses the payment of bonuses to senior managers.
Already, official figures show the decisions on asylum cases have risen 38 per cent compared to the same quarter in 2008.
Available information also suggests in December 2008 the UK Border Agency met its target of concluding 60 per cent of new asylum cases within six months.
Woolas says: ‘The UK Border Agency has made considerable improvements over recent years and is now a world leader with the introduction of biometric visas, identity cards for foreign nationals, and a points-based system to control migration.
‘The truth is that our border has never been stronger, as illustrated by the fall in asylum applications, the record numbers we are stopping at Calais, and the watch-list checks that are undertaken before people even step on a plane….”
Only recently, the Office for National Statistics had released figures revealing the grant rate for asylum has fallen to 12 per cent.
The statistics also reveal the applications for asylum have dropped to 5,055 for the third quarter of 2009 – a 24 per cent reduction compared to the same quarter in 2008.