It has been revealed that the Home Office is using nudge tactics to encourage asylum seekers to return to their country of origin, before their cases are even considered.
Letters sent out to those awaiting a hearing on whether they can be granted asylum in the UK provided contact numbers and information on returning home, stating: “The team can discuss your return, obtain your travel document and send it to the port of departure, help with the cost of your tickets or provide other practical assistance.”
The move comes in the wake of figures that announced there had been a 14 per cent decrease in asylum applications for 2017, and contrasts previous measures where the information about returning home was only provided when an asylum claim had been rejected.
The letters are the latest weapon in the Home Office’s drive to make as ‘hostile’ an environment as possible for illegal immigrants.
Concerns have been voiced as to how such tactics will affect those applying for asylum who have suffered torture prior to arriving here.
A spokesperson for Freedom From Torture, a charity supporting torture victims, said: “The Home Office is already dogged by poor decision-making that sees many torture survivors wrongly denied asylum and forced to go to appeal before they are able to prove they need safety here. Presenting returns options at the start of an asylum claim will only exacerbate these problems by further embedding the idea that the claim is likely to be refused and causing vulnerable people to even further distrust the system.”
Replying to the criticisms levelled at the department, a Home Office representative said: “We will only remove a person from the United Kingdom where the Home Office and the courts agree there is a safe route to return. Informing asylum seekers at an early stage about their options to leave the country on a voluntary basis has been part of Home Office practice for more than 10 years […] The letter states clearly that these options are voluntary.”
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