Monday 23 July 2012 by Jonathan Rayner

Members of Parliament today criticised the UK Border Agency (UKBA) for failing to clear a 276,460 cases backlog - equivalent to the 'entire population of Newcastle upon Tyne'.

The backlog includes 150,000 individuals in the migration refusal pool and 3,900 foreign national prisoners who should have been deported but are still living in the UK, the MPs said. They said senior staff should stop receiving bonuses until the agency's performance improves and that some bonuses already paid should be returned.

The report of the Home Affairs Select Committee, published 23 July, covers the work of UKBA between December 2011 and March 2012. It criticises the UKBA for 'failing to conclude' the total backlog of 276,460 cases. It says that on 31 March 2012 there were 101,500 cases of people who could not be located, although the committee 'welcomes the reduction of 13,000 asylum cases and 500 immigration cases' during the period covered by the report. It adds: 'The committee, however, noted that 59% of the original asylum legacy cases resolved to date were given leave to remain.'

The committee 'highlighted its concern' that so many asylum cases will 'remain outstanding for years' because just 63% of them are currently being resolved in 12 months, which could 'lead to a new backlog'.

The committee called on the government to halt plans to close off the Family Visit Visa route of appeal, which comprises some 40% of all appeals, and instead to 'improve initial casework decisions and 'guidance'.

The committee recommended setting up a team to examine why the 3,900 foreign national offenders living in the community have not been deported. Deportation proceedings for foreign national prisoners should start at the time of sentencing, it said, and the government should publish a list of those countries that refuse to repatriate their own criminals who have committed crimes in the UK.

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