In an article published following the release of new immigration statistics yesterday, BBC News claimed that the number of withdrawn asylum claims had “rocketed” from 60 in the year ending June 2022, to 15,308 in the subsequent 12 months.
This is not correct, and the BBC changed its article after being contacted by Full Fact. While the number of people whose asylum applications were withdrawn has increased substantially, the figure for the year to June 2022 was 4,044, not 60 as the BBC suggested. The figure for the year to June 2023 also differs slightly from that given by the BBC.
The media should make every effort to achieve due accuracy in all output. False or misleading claims should be appropriately and clearly corrected in a timely manner. We’re grateful to the BBC for correcting its article promptly after we contacted them about the figures.
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BBC figures showed limited portion of total withdrawals
When we asked the BBC about its figures it pointed us to data showing the outcome of asylum applications made under section 12 of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, which implemented a number of changes to the UK’s asylum system, many of which came into force on 28 June 2022.
However, the Home Office confirmed to Full Fact that the 60 “cases” mentioned in the BBC’s article referred only to the number of people whose asylum applications were withdrawn in the 3 days between 28 June and 30 June 2022, rather than the entire year to the end of June 2022, as the BBC claimed.
The 15,308 cases mentioned by the BBC meanwhile refer to the number of people whose applications were withdrawn between 28 June 2022 and 30 June 2023.
What are the correct figures?
Separate Home Office data also published yesterday shows that the total number of people whose asylum claims were withdrawn in the year to June 2022 was 4,044, compared with 15,244 in the year to June 2023.
BBC News updated its article to reflect these figures after we contacted them.
While the rise was smaller than the BBC article originally suggested, the number of people whose applications were withdrawn over the year to June 2023 almost quadrupled compared with the same period the previous year.
Applications can involve multiple people
The above figures refer to the number of people who have had an application withdrawn, not the actual number of “cases” withdrawn, as the BBC suggested.
This distinction is important because one case can include multiple people. The number of actual cases withdrawn in the year to June 2023 was 14,381, compared with 3,529 over the previous 12 months.
It’s worth noting that an asylum application may be directly withdrawn by an applicant, or be withdrawn on their behalf if they fail to cooperate with the claims process, and this data does not give the reason for each withdrawal.
Image courtesy of Alamy
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As detailed in our fact check, the BBC amended its article and added a footnote after being contacted by Full Fact.
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