The backlog of people waiting for a decision on their asylum application is at a record high, latest official figures show, but the majority of claimants in the backlog did not arrive in Britain on small boats.
Analysis from the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford has found that small boat arrivals account for only one third of the asylum backlog, suggesting that other routes into the UK are being overlooked.
The Conservative government has promised to reduce immigration and intensified its attention on the issue of Channel crossings. Ministers most recently announced a series of policy interventions in what they dubbed “small boats week”, that included placing the first group of asylum seekers on the Bibby Stockholm barge – which was quickly evacuated over a health scare.
The latest government figures show the need to look at the fuller picture regarding immigration, said Rob McNeil, deputy director of the Migration Observatory.
“Almost the entirety of government asylum policy is focused on the small boats route, which misses the fact that small boats only made up a third of the asylum claims in the backlog data released today,” said McNeil.
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The arrival of people in small boats is high profile, in part, because there is an element of spectacle to it. “It provides images and a focus for campaigners on both sides of the debate,” he continued.