Immigration Appeal System now 'A Soft Touch'…


October 23, 2003

Fears that the appeal system has become a 'soft touch' have been expressed after an analysis of Government figures on asylum appeals showed a four-fold increase in six years.

'This is a huge rise in a short time for which no Government explanation has been forthcoming,' said Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch.  'Once again it seems that the Government's target setting has distorted the process.  But it would be self defeating if thousands of people were given the right to live in Britain without a thorough examination of their claims.'

Research by Migrationwatch has revealed that the success rate of asylum appeals has risen from 5.7% in 1997 to 21.6% in 2002

Some suggest that the reason for this is a deterioration in the quality of initial decisions made by the Home Office.  It is suggested that this is due to difficulties in recruiting and training staff as well as in the introduction of a new computer system.

However, enquiries by Migrationwatch UK reveal that a major part of the problem may lie in the appeals system. 

A massive increase in the number of adjudicators from some 200 in 1992 to about 600, 120 full time and 480 part time, may well have led to a decline in the calibre of those appointed. 

Changes in the training regime may also be significant.  The pressure to meet targets has lead to a decline in the amount of initial and continuing training of adjudicators. 

At the same time, pressure to meet a Government target to increase the disposal rate from 4,000 to 6,000 per month has obliged adjudicators to cut corners.  Thus appeals may be allowed in some cases which, on more careful consideration, ought to have been dismissed.

A further problem is the continuing failure of the Home Office to recruit and retain a sufficient number of Presenting Officers to represent its interests in appeals.  There is frequently no-one present in the court to put forward the Government case.  The situation is exacerbated by the insistence of the Immigration Appeal Tribunal that the adjudicator may only ask questions to clarify matters.  He is not allowed to take an inquisitorial approach.

As the number of appeals determined has now reached nearly 65,000 a year, a fall in the standard of adjudication could grant asylum to many thousands of applicants who do not deserve it.  This would be a very poor outcome from a system which costs the tax payer nearly £2 billion a year, or nearly £5 million every day.

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