Controlling Britain’s Borders: The challenge of enforcing the UK’s immigration rules
David Wood, January 2019
The UK receives tens of thousands of asylum applications ever year. Usually less than half are found to be valid, even at the end of lengthy appeal processes, and yet only a minority of those subsequently leave the country. As a result there is a mounting backlog of illegal immigrants waiting to be removed. Most never will be.
David Wood, Theresa May’s former Director General of Immigration Enforcement at the Home Office, here sets out the challenge of maintaining Britain’s border controls and shows how the system largely fails to deal with those who are here illegally. One of the central difficulties revolves around the asylum system, and the scope for its abuse by those who are not refugees but submit applications as a last-ditch bid to avoid deportation.
This risks overwhelming resources and lengthening the time it takes to process the claims of genuine asylum seekers who are fleeing persecution and war. It also helps undermine voters’ trust in the system and fuels anger that the rules are not enforced properly.
‘It is essential that the UK’s asylum system is nothing but supportive of those who are genuinely fleeing persecution,’ Wood writes. ‘But where asylum processes are being used as a way of facilitating economic migration it is essential to be able to quickly and efficiently distinguish between the two, in order to ensure those entitled to help receive it quickly, and to ensure that UK citizens do not lose faith and support for a system that is rife with abuse.
‘It ought to be possible to do better in enforcing immigration rules than we have been doing, and that must start with a better understanding of the challenges we face.’
In the Media
The Daily Telegraph: Half of failed asylum seekers remain in UK illegally, says ex-immigration chief
BBC News: Home Office urged to use lie detectors
About the Author
David Wood worked for the Home Office for nine years between 2006 and 2015, including as Deputy Chief Executive of the UK Border Agency and then as Director General of Immigration Enforcement. Before that he spent 31 years with the Metropolitan Police, specialising in tackling organised crime and corruption, and rising to the rank of Deputy Assistant Commissioner. He is now a Director of BGS Ltd, a global security company.Download PDF Purchase Book