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Lord Bassam of Brighton: A total of 990 persons were detained in immigration detention centres and prison establishments in the United Kingdom solely under Immigration Act powers on 31 January 2000. Of this total, 515 persons were held in prison establishments. This figure is not recorded in such a way as to identify those who were held pending deportation or those in prisons who had applied for asylum at some point. It may be helpful to know that a snapshot report showing the number of persons recorded as being held in detention in the United Kingdom, solely under Immigration Act powers, by
From administrative data, it has been estimated that approximately 15,000 persons were detained for the first time under Immigration Act powers during 1999. This figure covers persons held in immigration detention centres, prisons and police cells and, in addition to persons detained solely under Immigration Act powers, includes persons detained under dual immigration and police powers. The estimate may under-record the numbers held in police cells and prisons, particularly those in the north of England. The figure is not intended to be a measure of all persons who spent time in detention during the year, as it counts only the first time a person enters detention and therefore does not include persons held during 1999 who were initially detained in an earlier year. The figure covers both those persons who have applied for asylum at some stage and those who have never applied for asylum, many of whom will have been detained for only a very short period of time.
The latest reliable snapshot of detained asylum seekers relates to those asylum applicants detained in immigration detention centres, prison establishments and police cells solely under Immigration Act powers as at 30 December 1998 for port applicants and 4 January 1999 for in-country applicants. On those dates, 741 such persons were recorded. The location of those detainees is not recorded reliably and it is not therefore possible to state how many were held in prisons. Data recording problems mean that an updated figure is not currently available.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The application to run an early voting pilot scheme made by Plymouth City Council, including an identity requirement for those voting early, has been given provisional approval.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: We intend that reviews of the sort referred to will be made on an on-going basis by the National Asylum Support Service, as part of the service's normal operational work. We have already established excellent lines of communication with both
Whether they will put in place arrangements to review, at least every six months the working of the voucher scheme for asylum seekers, with particular reference to (a) the cost of administering the scheme; (b) its effectiveness in meeting the needs of asylum seekers; and (c) the social experience of those compelled to use vouchers; and[HL1360]
Whether they will review the voucher system for asylum seekers to ensure that the vouchers can be used where it is most economic to shop and that change in cash will be available when purchases are made.[HL1361]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The entire asylum support scheme, including the voucher system, will be kept under constant review within the National Asylum Support Service, as part of the service's normal operational work. Where this review process discloses any need for amendments in the way the scheme is operated, we shall take the necessary steps to make these.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: Arrangements are being set into place at the present time, both within the new National Asylum Support Scheme, and by liaison with the voluntary sector, to ensure that asylum seekers are dispersed to areas where their needs can be met. Where an asylum seeker has a specific need he or she will be able to state this when seeking support and this will be taken into account when the question of dispersed destination is under consideration.
With regard to specialist legal advice, we are satisfied that, as dispersal occurs, so legal practitioners in the dispersed areas will respond to the changed needs for specialist advice, drawing knowledge from the centre as is presently done in other fields of law.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The law requires that the circumstances of each asylum claim, including those dealt with under any fast track procedures, are carefully considered on an individual basis. All asylum applications made in the United Kingdom are carefully considered to establish whether the person has a well founded fear of persecution under the terms of the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The role of Oakington is to strengthen our ability to deal quickly with asylum applications, many of which prove to be unfounded. Applicants will be required to remain at Oakington for a period of about seven days while their claims are considered. There will be provision for legal advice to be available on site.
Further to the debate on asylum seekers on 1 March, how many dependants accompanied the applicants for asylum in each of the months recorded in Asylum Statistics: December 1999 United Kingdom, published by the Research Development Section. [HL1379]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: Information regarding principal applicants and dependants, in each of the years 1990 to 1998, is given in Table 7.1 of the Home Office Statistical Bulletin Asylum Statistics United Kingdom, 1998, a copy of which is available in the Library.
Information on principal applicants and dependants is published on an annual basis only. It is planned that the figures for the calendar year 1999 will be included within the next Asylum Bulletin, which is due to be published in June of this year.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: Provisional information relating to removals and voluntary departures for December 1998 to December 1999, under port and enforcement procedures of persons who have applied for asylum at some stage, is given in the table. Failed asylum seekers are only removed once all their rights of appeal in the United Kingdom have been exhausted. It should be noted that the figures may include some persons who withdrew their asylum application or appeal before a decision or determination had been reached.
|Month||Removals and Voluntary Departures (1), (1), p|
(1) For port asylum applicants, voluntary departures are included up to and including the point of notification of the decision on the asylum application and those persons who have had their asylum application refused and leave the country before they have exhausted their rights of appeal.
(1) For in-country applicants, the figures include voluntary departures following enforcement action but exclude all other voluntary departures.
p Figures are provisional, revised and rounded to the nearest five.