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UK: Priti Patel accused of 'disastrous leadership' as asylum backlog increases again

© Amnesty International

New 2022 Q1 immigration figures show backlog of asylum claims awaiting a decision after more than six months at 73,207

Under Priti Patel, the Home Office has become a byword for backlogs and dysfunction

‘The Home Secretary’s disastrous leadership has run the asylum system into the ground’ - Steve Valdez-Symonds

Amnesty International has accused Priti Patel of “disastrous leadership” at the Home Office after new immigration statistics published today showed another large increase to the backlog of outstanding asylum claims.

Today’s figures, from the immigration quarterly statistics published by the Home Office, show that the number of asylum claims still to be decided after more than six months has grown in every quarter of the current Home Secretary’s term of office.

Overall, the UK’s asylum backlog has more than trebled since July 2019 under the Home Secretary’s leadership, with 73,207 people still waiting for a decision after six months of submitting an asylum application.

The latest figures show that the largest number of asylum claims during the first quarter of 2022 came from nationals from Afghanistan, Albania and Iran. More than 75% of the claims decided over that same period were successful.

An analysis of the statistics on asylum claims shows that in each of the three years of Priti Patel’s time as Home Secretary has been a marked increase in the size of the asylum claim backlog. Data published by the Home Office shows: 

  • In 2019: the volume of claims awaiting a decision after more than six months grew by 12,678 to a total of 29,233
  • In 2020: the figure of 29,233 grew by a further 17,563 to a total of 46,796
  • In 2021: the figure of 46,796 grew by a further 15,068 to 61,864
  • Over the first three months of 2022: the figure of 61,864 grew by a further 11,343 to 73,207

Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s Refugee and Migrant Rights Director, said:

“The Home Secretary’s disastrous leadership has run the asylum system into the ground, with the Home Office becoming a byword for backlogs and dysfunction.

“Priti Patel’s failed asylum policies have caused huge delays in the processing of claims, and thousands of people seeking a place of safety have been left in limbo and misery.

“Worse is yet to come - with new measures set to take effect next month which will build even more delay into the system.

“Rather than take responsibility for the relatively few asylum claims the UK actually receives, Priti Patel is deliberately causing delays and backlogs as part of her bid to make life miserable for refugees.

“This is failure by intention - and at enormous human and financial cost.”

The data on outstanding claims is available from the asylum applications awaiting a decision datasets.

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