Ann Widdecombe says all asylum seekers should be detained
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Arrivals have, in some cases, faced “bare bones” checks, with overworked officials having no idea who they were, according to insiders. It has led to security fears in the wake of last Sunday’s terror strike by failed asylum seeker Emad Al Swealmeen, 32, who blew himself up outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital. Swealmeen had an asylum application rejected in 2014, but was still in the country despite question marks surrounding whether he was Syrian or from Iraq.
The latest revelations about lax checks on migrants crossing the Channel, and in other areas, have added to fears over who is getting into the country.
Yesterday Kevin Saunders, former chief immigration officer for the UK Border Force, fuelled concerns.
He said only a small number of people had been removed this year and described the UK as “just too attractive” for people. He added: “They know that once they’re in the UK they’ve won the jackpot.
“People know that they’re not going to be removed. This is why they destroy all their documentation.
“It’s a real worry because we don’t know who people are.”
The numbers of migrants crossing the Channel has rocketed this year with more than 24,700 making it here so far, almost three times the total for 2020.
This has led to shortcuts in their processing, according to staff from the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) service and the National Asylum Intake Unit (NAIU).
Sunday Express research of extradition and immigration hearings has identified several cases of convicted killers, rapists, people smugglers and drug traffickers who have slipped into the country illegally through various means, including the Channel, before being discovered months or even years later.
There are other cases where migrants have been granted asylum only to go on to set up human trafficking or drug supply networks.
The Channel crossings and illegal entry in lorries have become a flashpoint for foreign fugitives getting into the country.
Home Office staff concerns about poor checks were raised with David Neal, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, during an asylum inspection he ordered.
In his report, which was published on Thursday, he said that staff at all grades of UKVI expressed concerns about a fragmented process, especially data capture.
Border Force staff are frequently carrying out biometric fingerprint collection with equipment which “only worked on a sporadic basis”. The report added: “One manager said Border Force were ‘doing the bare bones of what they needed to’.
“They also said claimants were arriving at intake units and ‘we had no idea who they were, they had not been searched, families were split up and detention papers hadn’t been properly done’.”
Dr Ben Greening, executive director of Migration Watch UK, said: “We need reform to reduce the rising number of claims by those coming here illegally from safe places, and to cut down on blatant asylum abuse that can put the public at risk.”
Mr Neal took up the post in March and his inspection looked at asylum cases from August 2020 to the end of May this year.
It also found the number of undetermined asylum applications has grown to record numbers of 52,935 at the end of this March, with applicants now waiting an average of 550 days for a decision, more than double the 233 figure in 2017.
Afghan Abdul Wali Ahmadzai, 32, gave false details when he illegally entered the country and it was not initially discovered he was wanted in France in connection with the rape of a 14-year-old girl there in 2017. His extradition was ordered this month at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
His case mirrors that of fellow Afghan Rasuili Zubaidullah, 22, who arrived in a Channel boat while wanted in Austria in connection with the rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl. Zubaidullah, who denies the offence, was arrested in July and is due back in court on Friday.
A Home Office spokeswoman said recommendations from Mr Neal’s reports are being taken forward.
She added: “We are committed to ensuring asylum claims are considered without unnecessary delay. The Nationality and Borders Bill is going through Parliament to overhaul the decades old broken asylum system.”
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