The UK Border Agency’s Detained Fast Track (DFT) system was removing the majority of people with no right to be in the UK, however it was not working as quickly as intended and had insufficient safeguards to prevent people being incorrectly allocated to it, said John Vine CBE QPM, the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, publishing his thematic inspection report.
The Chief Inspector was pleased to find that:
73% of people whose claims were refused and had no right to remain were removed from the UK; and
93% of the decisions made by the Agency to refuse asylum were upheld by the independent Tribunal.
However, the Chief Inspector was concerned to find that:
the DFT was not working as quickly as intended with decisions not being made until 13 days after a person’s arrival in the DFT, despite the Agency’s published aim of three days;
38% of the sampled refusal cases took longer than three months to remove;
screening was not tailored to capture information that could fully determine whether someone was suitable for the DFT; and
despite the cost of the detention and the impact on individuals, the Agency had not conducted or published any analysis of its DFT operation.
John Vine, Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, said:
“Since its introduction in 2003 when asylum applications were at record levels, the Detained Fast Track (DFT) has been a prominent feature of the UK Border Agency’s management of asylum applications. It has remained in place with the continuing aim of deciding cases quickly and removing those whose applications fail.
“The DFT makes a sizeable contribution to the overall number of people removed by the Agency. I found that 73% of people whose claims were refused and who had no right to remain were removed from the UK, although 38% of these cases took longer than three months to remove. The quality of decisions to refuse asylum was high with the independent Tribunal upholding 93% of the Agency’s decisions.
“I found that the DFT was not working as quickly as intended. People waited on average 13 days in detention before a decision was made on their claim, compared with the three to four day timescale the Agency needed to meet – this is a significant disparity. The length of time between interview and decision also has cost implications for the taxpayer.
“Screening was not tailored to capture information that could fully determine whether someone was suitable for the DFT. While safeguards were in place, once people had been detained, there was a risk that other vulnerable people could be allocated to the DFT contrary to the Agency’s own policy.
“Finally, given the cost of detention and the impact on individuals, I am concerned that the Agency has not conducted and published any analysis of the DFT. This would enable the operation of the DFT to be more transparent, which is essential if the Agency is to maintain public confidence in the way this important area of work is managed.”