Mr. Gareth Thomas
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish guidelines used by his Department for considering the speed and timing of the deportation of asylum seekers once all appeals have been exhausted.
§ Beverley Hughes
There are no publishable guidelines or data available on how quickly removal should take The speed with which a person or persons can be removed depends on whether there are any barriers to removal and how quickly they can be overcome.
The Immigration Service (IS) is fully committed, however, to removing from the United Kingdom, all of those who have no entitlement to remain in this country. The IS targets in particular those who have applied for and failed the asylum process and those who have not lodged an appeal within 15 working days of adverse decision.
I am able to report that, following a series of measures, there has been a steady increase in removals performance across the board. Some 14,400 people (including dependants) were removed in 2002, representing an increase of 12 per cent. over the previous year and a 45 per cent. increase compared to 1997. Though, among other things, greater contact management with asylum seekers at all stages of the asylum process and better intelligence, we would expect this trend to continue over the coming months.
Through close collaboration with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), planning and work is also undertaken to overcome immigration related problems with specific countries. Were necessary, this includes working with other Government Departments and the Governments of the countries where specific problems exist. Through this approach, and by drawing upon the joint expertise of Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) and FCO, measures can be identified and implemented that counter particular, and sometimes unique, problems including difficulties with delays and barriers to removal.