News & Views Monday 25th February to Sunday 3rd March 2019


Immigration Statistics Q4 2018 Deportations Down 20%, Detention Down 30%. Grants of Asylum up 8%

Immigration detention

At the end of December 2018, there were 1,784 people held in the detention estate, a fall of 30% compared with the same date 12 months earlier and the lowest level since comparable records began in 2009. The fall follows the introduction of the new Immigration Bail in Schedule 10 of the Immigration Bill 2016 (15 January 2018), and changes across the immigration system following Windrush.

In 2018, 24,748 individuals entered the detention estate, 10% fewer than the previous year and the lowest level since comparable records began in 2009.

Over the same period, 25,487 left the detention estate (down 10%). Over two-thirds were detained for less than 29 days and 4% were detained for more than 6 months. The Home Office would usually only detain someone for more than 6 months if they are a foreign national offender (FNO), or if they have subsequently claimed asylum while in detention.

Of those leaving detention, 44% were returned from the UK to another country (compared with 47% in the previous year) and a further 40% received Secretary of State (SoS) bail. The remaining 16% will include people granted bail by an Immigration Judge, those granted leave to enter or remain, and those leaving for other reasons (such as deaths and absconders).


There were 9,474 enforced returns from the UK in 2018, 21% fewer than the previous year. The fall coincides with changes across the immigration system following Windrush. In particular there were falls in enforced returns of people who were in immigration detention prior to their return, which fell by 17% to 8,578 compared with 10,362 in the previous year.

There were 5,209 foreign national offenders returned in 2018, 15% fewer than the previous year.

For further details see ?How many people are detained or returned?’ and the data tables.

Enforced returns for both EU nationals (down 1,117 to 3,797) and non-EU nationals (down 1,458 to 5,677).

EU nationals accounted for 40% of enforced returns throughout the year and the majority (55%) of these were Romanian and Polish nationals

Of the enforced returns in the latest period, 23% (2,163) were enforced returns of people who had previously sought asylum (see the ‘About the Statistics’ section for the definition of asylum-related returns).

How Many People Did the UK Grant Asylum or Protection to in 2018?

The UK offered protection – in the form of grants of asylum, alternative forms of protection and resettlement – to 15,891 people in 2018 (up 8%). The number of people offered protection in the UK has been around this level since early 2015.

The Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) accounted for three-quarters (4,407) of the 5,806 refugees resettled in the UK in 2018. Since it began in 2014, 14,945 people have now been resettled under the scheme. A further 688 were resettled under the Vulnerable Children Resettlement Scheme (VCRS) over the last year.

There were 29,380 asylum applications in the UK from main applicants in 2018, 11% more than the previous year. Although this remains below levels seen in 2015 and 2016 during the European migration crisis, the number of applications in the latest quarter was the highest level since 2015 quarter 4, with notable increases in applications from Iranians, Iraqis and Albanians.

Data on the Dublin Regulation, published annually, show there were 1,215 transfers into the UK and 209 transfers out of the UK under the Dublin Regulation.

For further details see ?How many people do we grant asylum or protection to?’ and the data tables.

Don’t Forget About Article 8 In Asylum Cases

With so much focus on whether an asylum seeker has established a well-founded fear of persecution in their country of origin, the question of whether their appeal falls to be allowed under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights is often given only cursory attention.

However, it is not necessarily true that a person’s Article 8 claim will stand or fall along with their asylum claim. In each asylum case, there are a variety of separate considerations: is there a well-founded fear of persecution linked to a Convention ground? (refugee status)

is there a real risk the applicant will suffer serious harm? (humanitarian protection)

are there other factors, such as severe medical issues, which would mean removal would result in inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment? (discretionary leave on basis of Article 3)

are there very significant obstacles to re-integration? (private life within the Immigration Rules – paragraph 276ADE)

would removal from the UK disproportionately interfere with the applicant’s private and/or family life? (Article 8 outside the Rules).

Different factors are relevant to the different categories, albeit there will inevitably be a degree of overlap. Where there is overlap, the decision-maker should consider each matter separately under the different categories and explain why the relevant legal threshold has not been met. A particular set of circumstances may not amount to a well-founded fear of persecution but could amount to very significant obstacles to re-integration, which is a much lower threshold.

Read more: Iain Halliday, McGill & Co,

Briefing: Statutory Considerations In Human Rights Appeals

In our latest contribution to the Free Movement blog Iain Halliday examines the statutory considerations judges are required to “have regard to” in human rights appeals in the Immigration Tribunal.

He observes that the complexity in this area is due to the Government's attempt to restrict rights, in particular the right to private and family life, without repealing the Human Rights Act 1998. The Government have not been able to repeal the Act as they have never been confident there would be a majority in Parliament in favour of doing so. The Government’s solution, of providing directions to judges through legislation, has been descried as a “constitutional innovation” and  has led to a situation which was recently been described by the Supreme Court as “profoundly unsatisfactory”.

The post examines the background to the introduction of the statutory considerations through the Immigration Act 2014 and reviews the case law applicable to each consideration. The considerations relate to a migrant’s English language ability, financial circumstances, immigration status, and parental relationship with any children who are British citizens or who have lived in the UK for 7 years.

The post concludes by noting that, after Brexit, the Government are likely to turn their attention to repeal of the Human Rights Act again (prior to Brexit this was a prominent policy aim of the Conservative Party however it has been side-lined recently due to Brexit). However, much like Brexit, once repeal of the Act becomes a reality, and the loss of rights it would entail for all UK residents is confronted, people may begin to question whether it is such a good idea after all.

Iain Halliday, McGill & Co,

Immigration Check Outcry Sees Officers Removed by Councils

Labour councils are removing Home Office immigration officers embedded within local authorities after calls from party members and councillors to stop enabling policies that lead to a “hostile environment” for migrants.

Embedded officials sit in on meetings between councils and vulnerable migrant families and ensure the Home Office is made aware of each person that registers for emergency funds. They can also pass information to immigration enforcement officers, and have been accused of encouraging undocumented migrants to leave the UK voluntarily and of providing poor advice that could damage applications to stay in the country.

Campaign groups say destitute migrant families can be put off from asking councils for support fearing that the involvement of Home Office officials can mean immigration action will be taken against them. “Their job is to enforce government-made laws, not to help people,” a Labour source said. “It is not the responsibility of Labour councils to be informing on vulnerable migrants when they come to us seeking shelter and support.”

Read more: Matta Busby. Guardian,

Former British Child Migrants: Payment Scheme

It is almost a year since the report by the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse—IICSA—shone a damning spotlight on the severe sexual, physical and emotional abuse experienced by many of the thousands of child migrants sent abroad unaccompanied as a result of the policy of child migration practised by successive post-war Governments. The report exposes the harrowing abuse that took place before the children travelled, during the journey and after they migrated. It often continued for years and took place at the hands of more than one perpetrator. For some children, the most devastating aspect of the experience was being lied to about their family background and even about whether their parents and siblings were alive or dead.

The experience that many of the former child migrants had has had a lifelong impact on their physical and mental wellbeing, their educational attainment and their future employment prospects. The child migration programmes effectively ended some people’s lives just as they were beginning. Over the last few months, I have also been contacted by many of the partners and children of former child migrants to talk about the impact that there has been on them, too. This is not just about children losing their parents and parents losing their children; it is about generations being separated—grandparents being separated from grandchildren and young people growing up and not knowing any family beyond their parents at all.

While acknowledging the failures of the institutions, including charities and churches, that were involved in the process of migrating children, the report, as the Minister knows, overwhelmingly concluded that Her Majesty’s Government were primarily to blame for the existence of the programmes after the second world war and that successive British Governments, of all political persuasions, allowed them to remain in place despite a catalogue of evidence showing the treatment that children were receiving. That is surely one of the most shameful periods in British history.

Hansard House of Commons,

Frontex Co-ordinated 345 Charter Flights January Through December 2018

Plus 1,082 return operations by scheduled flights

From which countries and to which destination countries?

The EU Member States that participated the most in return operations coordinated by FX in 2018 were:

by charter flights: Germany, Italy, France, Belgium and Austria;

by scheduled flights: Belgium, Austria, Germany, Denmark and Portugal

Countries of origin to which Frontex organized most of the return operations in 2018. 

by charter flights: Albania, Tunisia, Georgia, Kosovo*, Serbia

by scheduled flights: Morocco, Albania, Serbia, Algeria and Bosnia i Herzegovina

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.

Source for this data: Frontex Press Office