17/05/2005

Asylum applications fall by 17%

Asylum applications dropped by 17% over the first three months of 2005, according to the latest figures from the Home Office.

The Home Office’s quarterly statistics also showed that monthly applications are now at their lowest level since March 1997.

According to the figures, there were 7,015 asylum applications in the first quarter of 2005, a drop of 17% from the previous quarter and a fall of 22% from the same period last year. Iranians, Iraqis and Somalians were the top nationalities seeking asylum.

According to the latest figures, four out of five asylum claims are decided within two months, while the number of cases awaiting an initial decision fell to 8,700, the lowest level for a decade.

However, the number of initial decisions at 8,045 was 5% lower than the previous quarter, while the removal of failed asylum seekers increased by 4% making this figure 10% lower than the equivalent quarter in 2004.

Commenting on the statistics, Immigration Minister Tony McNulty said: “Asylum applications are continuing to fall significantly, and at a faster rate than any other European countries, as a result of government action in recent years including moving immigration controls across the channel, securing the closure of Sangatte, speeding up the asylum process and legislation to target abuse.”

Mr McNulty admitted more needed to be done to tighten the system and increase the number of failed asylum seekers removed from the UK. He said: “This is essential if people are to have confidence that the system is both robust and fair.

“Over the coming months we will be implementing our five year strategy for asylum and immigration to deliver strict controls that work in the interests of Britain.”

(KMcA/SP)

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