National Audit Office report says government will not meet target on removals - Refugee Council
July 19, 2005

National Audit Office report says government will not meet target on removals

The National Audit office report ‘Returning failed asylum applicants’ has said that the government will fail to meet its target for the removal of failed asylum seekers if it depends only on arresting and detaining more people due to be deported. The report estimates that at the end of May 2004 there were between 155,000 and 283,000 failed asylum seekers in Britain.

The report said efforts to increase the number of places in detention centres would only produce 40 per cent of the extra deportations needed to meet government targets. An NAO spokesman said “…relying just on being able to arrest and detain more people prior to removal is not going in itself to achieve the target. The Home Office will also need to increase the number of removals not requiring detention and/or increase the numbers of failed asylum seekers removed per bed space in removal centres.”

Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office said “detaining failed applicants increases the likelihood of successful removal, but it is expensive and more efficient use could be made of such facilities.”

The report said the Immigration and Nationality Directorate had difficulty estimating the number of failed asylum-seekers awaiting removal and has “no system” for assessing the scale of the problem. It said that the directorate had been “slow” to remove newly failed asylum-seekers and that the directorate was not doing enough to encourage people to take up financial help to return voluntarily to their country of origin. At around £1,100 per departure, assisted voluntary returns cost less than the average figure of £11,000 per enforced removal.

The report also criticised “bottlenecks” in the asylum system and said the the directorate had problems establishing the number of failed asylum-seekers awaiting removal.

News stories:

Independent: Blair’s asylum-seeker target to be missed
Times: 250,000 avoid deportation
Guardian: Home Office will miss target for removing failed asylum seekers, watchdog warns

National Audit office report:

Executive Summary (pdf)
Full report (pdf)

Refugee Council response:

Press release and statement