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Most who fail to win asylum ‘just carry on living in UK’

LESS than half of failed asylum seekers are removed from Britain and bogus claims are rife, an ex-Home Office chief has warned in a report.

The system is ‘not efficient or very effective’, said David Wood, a former head of immigration enforcement.

‘While there are thousands of genuine claims for asylum each year, thousands more are abusive applications,’ he said, adding that a myth is perpetuated in many countries that ‘the streets of the UK are paved with gold’.

His report, released days after home secretary Sajid Javid questioned whether migrants crossing the Channel in small boats were genuine asylum seekers, says abuse of the system risks undermining ‘well-placed sympathy’ for refugees.

Enforced removals and voluntary departures of failed asylum seekers have fallen from more than 15,000 annually in the mid-2000s, to fewer than 5,000 a year recently, according to the report published by think-tank Civitas.

‘Of the 80,813 applications refused or withdrawn between 2010 and 2016, only 29,659 were removed — leaving 51,154 failed asylum seekers in the country from that seven-year period,’ it says.

Mr Wood also warns many bogus asylum seekers engage in ‘nationality swapping’ — claiming to be from a country that will boost their chances of success.

Other tactics include adults claiming to be under 18 and destroying their travel documents before they arrive in the UK.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The UK has a proud history of providing protection to those who need it. However, we are clear that those with no right to be in the UK should return home.

‘We will seek to enforce the return of those who do not leave voluntarily. Since the start of 2010 there have been over 345,000 enforced or voluntary returns.’