The Home Affairs Select Committee heard evidence about Channel crossings and other asylum issues. The evidence noted stagnant processing, overcrowding at migrant hotels, and a system in need of reform.
While France has stopped 28,000 people from crossing the Channel this year, 38,000 arrived in the UK, peaking in August and September. 93% of the 38,000 claimed asylum. However, 96% of asylum applications from 2021 have ‘worryingly’ not been completed, straining an already existing backlog of more than 100,000 cases. 85% of the completed claims (4%) have been successful. One MP gave an example of an individual who had still not had an initial review in their case in two years.
The Committee also heard evidence of a deteriorating Manston, a migrant centre costing £5.6 million per day to run. While the centre holds a maximum of 1,600 people, it now holds around 3,000, a larger population than any prison in the UK. This was caused by a lack of outflow from the system and an increase in the length of time individuals are spending in the centre. While the rules allow for a 24-hour stay, the evidence showed a 17-year-old to have stayed for 19 days, and another to have spent a month. The evidence also confirmed the spread of Diphtheria, a highly contagious bacterial infection.
The overcrowding is presenting a potential fire risk, health risk, and risk of disorder. Untrained staff have been hired to guard the increasing numbers in the centre. These migrant hotels have been deemed unsuitable for vulnerable individuals, and cause people to move around the country as they open and close.
The Refugee Council’s Executive Director of External Affairs Tamsin Baxter responded saying:
“That only 4% of those arriving by boat to claim asylum in 2021 have had a decision on their asylum claim is appalling and indicative of an asylum system in urgent need of reform.” “The asylum backlog causes misery for every person waiting months, years even for news of their fate, unable to work or move on with their lives.” Baxter added that Suella Braverman must prioritise the backlog ‘as a matter of urgency.’