An investigation conducted by the BBC has revealed that high numbers of asylum applications are being dealt with by inexperienced and low paid staff. Several officials told the BBC that the Home Office is plagued by delays in processing asylum claims because staff are unable to handle the complexity of applications. This is leading to delayed access to justice, financial struggles for asylum seekers and prolonged stays in hotels not designed for long-term occupation. Reports show that more than 127,000 people are still awaiting a decision.
The BBC investigation comes shortly after another inquiry found that the treatment of asylum seekers in hotel accommodation lacks dignity, care and compassion. Similarly, the use of military facilities has been widely condemned. Manston, a former military installation in Kent, opened in February 2022 as a processing facility. Individuals were to be held there for a period of 24 hours or less while undergoing security and identity checks.
However, due to a paucity of alternative housing, asylum seekers were detained for prolonged periods of time at Manston. Recently, the Home Office confirmed that a man who arrived in the UK as part of a small boat crossing on the 12th November died after becoming unwell in the processing facility.
The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, refused to reveal legal advice received about overcrowding. While conceding that the Home Office “failed to control our borders” she refused to accept responsibility for the Manston catastrophe saying, “I’m not going to point the finger of blame at any one person, it’s not as simple as that.”
More than 4,000 asylum seekers were being held at the former military facility last month in tents, according to five court challenges alleging wrongful detention there. The facility has now closed, however, there are continuing concerns about the conditions in which asylum seekers are being held for long periods across the UK due to the decision making backlog.