With asylum in the headlines due to the Channel crossings over Christmas, it’s a good time to highlight that the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford last week updated their very useful briefing on asylum seekers and refugees in the UK.
You can read it here.
It provides an excellent factual overview of overall numbers and characteristics of asylum seekers in the UK, and outcomes of asylum applications. The briefing expands on each of the following key points:
- Asylum applications peaked in the early 2000s. They increased from 2010 to 2015 and fell slightly from 2015 to 2017, when they stood at 26,350 main applicants.
- Asylum claims in the UK represented less than 5% of the total number of applications made in EEA (European Economic Area) countries in 2017.
- A majority of initial asylum applications are refused (68% in 2017), but a substantial minority of decisions are overturned on appeal (35% in 2017).
- Taking into account decisions overturned on appeal, 50% of asylum applicants between 2010 and 2015 were eventually granted some form of protection.
- Iran, Pakistan and Iraq were the main origin countries of asylum seekers in 2017.
- In 2017, 4,800 Syrians were resettled through the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Programme.
Writing for The Conversation website last week, Bobby Duffy, King’s College London’s Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Policy Institute, examined the misperceptions that British people have about immigration.
Duffy said the recent media headlines about a ‘migrant crisis’ and the Home Secretary’s declaration of a ‘major incident’ due to around 100 migrants crossing the Channel over Christmas shows “how coverage of migration in the media and political rhetoric run way ahead of the reality, and fuel misperceptions about the scale, nature and impact of the issue.”
Duffy is the author of The Perils of Perception: Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything and has been studying misperceptions for 15 years. He says immigration is one of the areas that people in the UK are most wrong on, and they get it wrong in many different respects.
Surveys show the public overestimate the number of immigrants in Britain by around 100%. Duffy adds: “But it’s not just the scale but the composition that people get wrong. When we asked people what type of immigrants come to mind when they think of immigration, refugees and asylum seekers are the most mentioned, when they’re actually the smallest category of immigrants. People’s mental image is driven by media coverage and the tendency is to focus on the most desperate cases, not the more common categories of people who immigrate to work, study or be with family.”
Duffy says that politicians have lacked the political courage to make a positive case for immigration, and this extends back many years into previous Labour governments. Nicola Sturgeon’s recent comments are highlighted by Duffy as an exception, “[but] the UK as a whole is more characterised by an absence of any major political voices making the case at all.”