Minister Confirms Asylum Reform

Two new asylum specialist teams are to be set up in Scotland to deal with cases north of the border, Immigration Minister Liam Byrne has said. His announcement comes ahead of talks in Scotland with the first minister.

Jack McConnell is expected to raise concerns about the use of so-called dawn raids – the majority of which have happened in the west of Scotland.

Mr Byrne said the new system should reduce the need for the enforced removal of failed asylum seekers.

However, critics have said the reform will make little difference unless the rules themselves are changed.

Speaking on BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland, Mr Byrne said the key behind the reforms was to make decision-making more rapid.

“Faster decisions are fairer decisions,” he said.

“Nobody wants the asylum system to be a soft touch.

“We have to remember that 70% of asylum claims are found to be unfounded and so often decisions do need to be enforced.”

Mr Byrne said one official would be responsible for taking each case forward.

“That will make it far less likely that we have to do what’s called an enforced removal at the end because you’ve got a case owner that’s able to build up a relationship with the individual and the family,” he said.

Mr Byrne had indicated the possible reform during a meeting with Scottish Labour MPs.

Glasgow South West MP Ian Davidson, who attended the meeting, told BBC Scotland that the change aimed to speed up the asylum process.

The meeting followed rising opposition to dawn raids and a series of protests over the removal of failed asylum seekers in Glasgow.

However, campaigners have said the proposals do not go far enough as the decision-making process would not be altered.