Government speeding up appeals process for those trying to stay in UK


Thousands of appeals lodged by foreign criminals and asylum seekers battling to stay in Britain will be fast-tracked under government proposals.

On Tuesday ministers will unveil plans for a new process to speed up cases lodged by overseas nationals held in detention, and accelerate the removal of those with no right to remain.

The rules would apply to detainees who appeal against a Home Office decision to remove them from the country, including foreign offenders and failed asylum seekers.

If implemented, the system could speed up around 2,000 cases a year and save the taxpayer an estimated £2.7 million, officials say.

Justice Secretary Liz Truss said: "It is vital that foreign nationals who have no right to remain in the country should be removed as quickly as possible.

"We must ensure that foreign criminals and failed asylum seekers are not exploiting the justice system by attempting to stay in the UK after their claims have been rejected.

"Our proposals are also better for detainees as it will see their detention time cut."

The proposals aim to address a gap in the regime left after ministers were forced to scrap previous arrangements following legal challenges.

From 2003 the Detained Fast Track (DFT) system was used to accelerate asylum cases that could be decided quickly.

But the regime was quashed in July 2015 after the Court of Appeal upheld a finding by the High Court that the rules were unlawful due to the speed of the process coupled with a lack of sufficient safeguards for those making appeals.

Under the old system fast-tracked cases in the first-tier tribunal of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber were subject to time limits meaning they could be completed within 12 working days of an initial decision on the claimant's immigration status.

Further time was allowed for appeals subsequently lodged in the upper tribunal.

Since the DFT scheme was ditched there has been no fast-track appeals procedure in place.

An assessment of detained asylum cases between August 2015 and March 2016 found that it took on average more than 65 calendar days from receipt of the appeal to its determination in the first-tier tribunal.

Some detainees were held for more than 100 days while their case was decided.

The current average for an appeal determination is around 36 working days.

Under the Government's proposals the time between an initial decision and conclusion of an appeal to the first-tier tribunal would be capped at between 25 and 28 working days, shaving around a third off current average time-frames.

New safeguards, including a case management review and strengthened powers for judges to decide whether cases can be expedited, would also be introduced if the plans are adopted.

The independent Tribunal Procedure Committee (TPC), which sets rules for tribunals, will now consider whether and how the proposals should be implemented.

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