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Wednesday, 25 June 2008

How many LGBT UK asylum seekers? Too expensive to find out

Question Mark and ArrowImage by laurakgibbs via Flickr
To: Freedom Of Information Team ( IND )
Subject: Freedom of Information request - LGBT Asylum Seekers

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am looking for information to confirm the number of people in the UK within the past year who have used being a member of the LGBT community (gay, bisexual, trans) as grounds to remain in the UK.

In addition, I would like to know the number of the people from the above who have been granted Asylum in the UK.

Yours faithfully,

Lord Robert McDowall

~~~~~~~

Information Access Policy Team
Resource Management Group
United Kingdom Border Agency
Lunar House
11th floor, Short Corridor, 40 Wellesley Road
Croydon CR9 2BY

Lord Robert McDowall,

Via Email
Web www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk

Your Ref:
Our Ref: 9598

Date: 20 June 2008

Dear Lord McDowall,

Thank you for your request dated 4 June 2008 where you have asked, `I am looking for information to confirm the number of people in the UK within the past year who have used being a member of the LGBT community (gay, bisexual, trans) as grounds to remain in the UK. In addition, I would like to know the number of the people from the above who have been granted Asylum in the UK. This falls to be dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Unfortunately, I am not able to provide you with the information you have requested because the information is not centrally recorded. Whilst the number of claims and their outcomes are centrally recorded and published on the Research and Development Statistical Website (RDS), personal information and the reasons cited for claiming asylum are not. This information would be held on the person's personal file.

Therefore, in order to answer your request it would be necessary to examine manually all asylum files to retrieve the information, which due to the numbers involved is not possible. Additionally, as part of the Home Office, the UK Border Agency is not obliged under section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to comply with any information request where the estimated costs involved in supplying the information exceed the £600 cost limit. I regret that we cannot supply you with the information that you have asked for, as to comply with your request would exceed this cost limit. This limit applies to all central Government Departments and is based on work being carried out by one member of staff at a rate of £25 per hour, which equates to 3½ days work per request. The costs involved include locating and retrieving information you requested, and preparing our response to you. They do not include considering whether any information is exempt from disclosure, overheads such as heating or lighting, or disbursements such as photocopying or postage.

Your request would at present be too costly to answer. This is due to the fact that the data to these questions would be held on individual case files and is not held separately. However, if you were to refine your request further so that it falls under the £600 cost limit, we will be pleased to consider it further.

Should you wish to refine your request, so that we can provide you with answers to your questions within the £600 cost limit, please write back to me at the above address.

I should also point out that if you were to break your original request down into a series of smaller applications, we might, depending on the circumstances of the case, decline to answer if the aggregated cost of complying would exceed £600.

You should also bear in mind that even if any new request were to fall below the £600 cost limit, some information which we hold on this matter which you have requested may fall to be withheld under the terms of a number of the substantive exemptions contained in Part II of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. These exemptions could also make it necessary for us to extend the period for responding beyond the usual 20 working day target if they involve having to consider the public interest balancing test.

If you are dissatisfied with this response, you may request an independent internal review of our handling of your request by submitting your complaint to:

Border and Immigration Agency Information Access Policy Team
Lunar House
11th Floor, Short Corridor
40 Wellesley Road
Croydon
CR9 2BY

During the independent review the department's handling of your information request will be reassessed by staff who were not involved in providing you with this response. Should you remain dissatisfied after this internal review, you will have a right of complaint to the Information Commissioner as established by section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act.

Yours faithfully,

Mr Feakins,
Freedom of Information Team,
Resource Management Group
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