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Asylum figures lowest since 1993

27 February 2007

New asylum figures show that the Prime Minister's goals are achieved.

The government's 'tipping the balance' target was met in 2006, according to figures released by the Home Office today. Throughout all of last year, the number of failed asylum seekers who were deported exceeded the number of new arrivals making unfounded asylum claims.

At the same time, asylum applications continued their recent downward trend, hitting the lowest level since 1993, while the number of deportations hit an all-time high.

Last year, 18,235 failed asylum seekers were removed from the UK - a 16% increase on 2005. Since 1997 removals have risen 127%.

The asylum figures for the final quarter of 2006 (new window) showed that during that time asylum applications were down 4% to 6,835 compared to the previous quarter, and removals were up 7% to 4,085.

Outperforming other European nations

The UK is outperforming other European nations, which collectively saw their own asylum applications rise by 14% in the same time period.

Immigration Minister Liam Byrne called the figures 'impressive', and said they showed that the reform programmes at the Home Office and the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) were making a real difference.

'This is an important step on the road to Home Office Reform,' Mr Byrne said. 'This is a substantial achievement and shows how far we have come since asylum applications were at their peak in 2002.'

New measures speed the process

The record-breaking rate of removals was the result of a package of measures brought in by the IND recently to speed up the process. These include:

  • ending the right of failed asylum seekers from 'safe' countries to continue to live in the UK while appealing the decision
  • strengthening visa handling rules and protections
  • improving the technology used by immigration agents on the frontlines

EU accession figures

Other figures released today were the numbers of workers from EU accession states registering to work in the UK. Between October and December 2006, 62,945 applied to work here, compared to 51,160 in the same quarter of 2005.

Mr Byrne said the Worker Registration Scheme figures 'show that migrant workers from the accession states are benefiting the UK by filling skills and labour gaps that cannot be met from the UK-born population.'

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