Hampshire charity calls for rule change on asylum seekers
A Hampshire charity has criticised the government for making asylum seekers travel up to 500 miles to and from Liverpool as part of their appeal process.
The Southampton and Winchester Visitors Group said they have been forced to pay out hundreds of pounds in train fares so their clients can hand in documents relating to their case.
Jenny Cuffe, from the charity, told the BBC that people coming to the UK from abroad would often have their initial appeal for asylum rejected.
This would be because they may not be able to provide the right documentation, for example a medical record showing they had been tortured in their home country.
They would then have to travel to Liverpool to hand in the appropriate documents, and may have to face months of waiting before finding out if their appeal has been successful.
Previously people had been able to drop the documents off in Portsmouth or Southampton, but now the charity has asked whether they can post them instead.
Jenny said: ‘I can’t see any reason for this requirement except to deter people from pursuing their rightful claim.
‘As people have got more and more alarmed, frightened about immigration unfortunately they’ve also got more hostile towards the very people who need our compassion. and they are people who are seeking refuge in this country from situations of conflict and of persecution.’
A Home Office spokeswoman said: ‘The further submissions process applies only to failed asylum seekers whose claims have already been carefully considered by UK Visas and Immigration, and their cases examined at appeal and found by the independent courts not to need protection or have any other basis to stay in the UK.’
She added that visits to the Liverpool office are by appointment only, visitors are not expected to stay overnight and where possible decisions are made on the same day.