Home Affairs Committee publish UK Border Agency report

08 December 2009

In a report released today, the Home Affairs Committee expresses its regrets that case registrations at the UK Border Agency ever became “so chaotic” and hopes that the new model for case handling will enable UKBA to resolve historic problems - and cases – and show that it is working as it should

The Committee acknowledges the increased resources that have been made available to clear the substantial backlog of asylum applications but says UKBA’s self-imposed deadline of 2011 is simply too long - the Committee says with these resources all cases going back three years or should be finally decided by September 2010 at the latest.

The Committee is particularly concerned about the huge proportion and number of total applications - over 54 per cent - that have been concluded either by error or for some other reason which the UKBA can’t define (rather than by a grant or refusal of leave).

The Committee says it understands

“the difficulty in keeping track of people who may have made multiple applications, sometimes in different names, particularly in the years before the biometric information of applicants was recorded and at times when the numbers of people seeking asylum were at record highs”

but still highly regrets that registrations could have become so chaotic.

The Committee has previously expressed, and reiterates, its concerns about the role of the Independent Monitor, and notes that the Monitor was empowered to monitor only rejections of visas and not approvals. It has been reported that there are errors in up to 15 per cent of decisions to reject visas (although not all substantive errors); and the Committee says it is therefore possible that a similar number are being issued incorrectly. It welcomes the Independent Chief Inspector’s commitment to examine both the process of issuing visas and the appropriateness of the decisions being made.

Chairman Rt Hon Keith Vaz said

"There is still a huge backlog of unresolved cases and UKBA simply must get through them faster than they have promised. What is really surprising and disappointing is the number of cases where the UKBA is basically saying “we don’t know” exactly what has happened to these applicants – over half the applications are concluded for some “other” reason than being granted or denied leave: too many of these are errors, and for the vast majority it appears UKBA just can’t tell us what’s happened. And it is astonishing that the latest efforts to get their house in order threw up another 40,000 files that had been effectively abandoned incomplete – yet, in 2007/8 29 employees received £295,000 in bonuses. No one can forget the previous Home Secretary describing UKBA to my predecessor Committee as “not fit for purpose”. We know the Agency has had a lot to contend with, but it is apparent that UKBA still has a long way to go before it is operating as it should."

Image: PA

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