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Tuesday, 28 December 2010

New survey of UK asylum system experience

Walk Around in CirclesImage by angrytoast via Flickr
Source: Refugee Council 

In March 2007, a new system for dealing with asylum applications, the New Asylum Model (NAM), became fully operational. The Refugee Council welcomed many aspects of the new system, in particular the fact that there would be a single Case Owner responsible for each asylum case so it would be clear who was dealing with an asylum claim from start to finish. However, at the time the NAM was introduced we also had some concerns, in particular the fact that the timescales for processing claims were rapid and target driven so that asylum seekers would struggle to get access to quality legal advice in time for them to prepare for and fully present their case at the asylum interview.

In order to get some feedback from our clients about their experiences we carried out a questionnaire survey. The survey report was published in January 2008 and can be viewed on the Refugee Council website. Our findings showed that at the time the Case Owner system was not as effective as we had hoped; that there were indeed problems of asylum seekers not gaining access to legal advice prior to the substantive interview; and that there were additional problems in the process, for example with issues such as reporting.

We have now repeated the research in order to see if things have changed and improved. Regrettably the problems we originally identified persist. The Case Owner system continues to be not as effective as UKBA originally had claimed it would be; people do still struggle to get quality legal advice prior to the asylum interview and there are persistent problems with reporting, interpreting and child care.

The report has been sent to the UKBA and to the LSC and we have been told that it will be fed into the current deliberations of the Asylum Improvement Project.
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