Putting protection first - Refugee Council
January 16, 2008

Putting protection first

By Jonathan – Campaigns and Public Affairs Team

The Home Office published their ten point plan for reform of the immigration and asylum system on Monday – what Liam Byrne the Immigration minister described as the “largest shake up to Britain’s border security and immigration system for 40 years”.

Setting out four “urgent and ambitious” goals for 2008, it was good to see that Mr Byrne put protection first.  In recent years politicians have focused heavily on the need to increase border control and eliminate abuse of the system.  These are legitimate positions for a state to take – but they need to be balanced by providing borders with doors for refugees and offering protection to those who need it.   

Mr Byrne also listed a series of milestones to mark the progress of his reforms – all within a year.  Many relate to foreign national prisoners or economic migrants, but there were three particular milestones of interest to the Refugee Council.  The first was that there would be an expansion of the detention estate within 300 days.  The second was that within 360 days they would make and enforce 60 per cent asylum decisions within six months.  And thirdly, also within 360 days, there would be alternatives to the detention of children – which is some progress following the Refugee Council’s campaign to end the detention of children.

The detail around all this is vague at the moment – but watch this space for updates.  Do let us know what you think of the proposals (you can read them here) and leave your comments below.