UK government could fast-track removal of asylum seekers from 'safe' countries

More than 140,000 people are waiting for a decision on their claims in the UK

A group of people thought to be migrants are led through the Border Force compound in Dover, Kent, following a small boat incident in the Channel. PA
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The UK government could fast-track the removal of asylum seekers from countries considered to be safe to address a migration crisis in the English Channel.

It means applications from people from those countries would be regarded as largely unfounded, with no right to appeal. They would, however, be offered the right to provide contrasting evidence.

The plans are similar to a New Labour policy from the early 2000s, which dealt with applications from claimants from “white-list” countries in less than 10 days.

Migrants arriving in small boats from countries such as Albania would be detained at the Manston processing centre in Kent, or other similar facilities, while the claims are dealt with.

More than 140,000 people are waiting for a decision on their asylum claims in the UK.

Figures provided by the Home Office for the year to September show 143,377 asylum applications were yet to be determined, of which 97,717 had been waiting for more than six months.

This is at least three times higher than the 45,255 applications awaiting an initial decision at the same period in 2019, when 26,125 had been waiting for more than six months.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "We've been clear that we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to deter illegal migration, including returning those with no right to be in the UK to their home country.

"We return people who come to the UK illegally through a mixture of formal and information returns agreements with a number of countries, and we are always looking at ways to speed up removals and improve our returns processes with other countries."

Albanians accounted for more than a third of people crossing the English Channel in small boats in the first nine months of the year.

They also made up nearly half of those detected in July to September.

The figures, which have been published by the Home Office, show there were 33,029 small boat arrivals in the UK from January to September.

Nearly 700 migrants cross English Channel beating 2022 record - in pictures

Decisions have been made on just 2 per cent of applications from more migrants who crossed the Channel between October 2021 and August.

Around a third of those who made the crossing, 11,241 or 35 per cent, were Albanian.

Last year, 800 Albanians made the crossing, which was up from just 50 in 2020.

Experts suggest the “exponential rise” this year is due to Albanian criminal gangs operating in northern France.

"We value our Albanian community in the UK, and continue to welcome Albanians who travel to the UK legally and contribute to British society," a Home Office spokesperson said.

"However, this year we are seeing large numbers of Albanians risking their lives and making dangerous and unnecessary journeys to the UK through illegal means, and this is placing further strain on our asylum system.

"With co-operation from the Government of Albania, we are taking every opportunity to intercept the work of organised criminal gangs and people smugglers, and speeding up the removal of Albanians with no right to be in the UK."

Earlier this week, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was urged by more than 50 Tory MPs to change modern slavery laws with emergency legislation in an attempt to reduce the number of small boats crossing the English Channel.

The Oxford-based Migration Observatory, a project providing analysis of UK immigration and migration issues, reported that 86 per cent of successful adult asylum seekers from Albania are women.

It suggested many Albanian asylum applicants are thought to be victims of trafficking.

Updated: November 29, 2022, 10:01 AM