Page last updated at 16:56 GMT, Thursday, 24 July 2008 17:56 UK

Asylum seekers backlog to remain

Luggage
About 20,000 people were removed from Britain

About 39,000 asylum seekers in a backlog of 400,000 applicants have been allowed to remain in Britain by the Home Office.

Another 20,000 people have been removed, the UK Border Agency said.

Its chief executive also said 105 of 1,013 foreign prisoners freed without being considered for deportation remained at large.

This latter issue led to the sacking of the former home secretary, Charles Clarke, in 2006.

UKBA chief executive Lin Homer said about 50 of the asylum seekers allowed to stay in Britain had some "possible criminal element".

Her disclosures come in a letter to Keith Vaz MP, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee,

'Age and complexity'

The top four nationalities among asylum seekers were Somalian, Pakistani, Iraqi and Afghan.

Most of their cases date back over three years, with some over seven years.

Ms Homer said that 308 of the foreign prisoners had been deported or removed.

A specialist team would continue to work on the cases of the 1,013 foreign prisoners, she added.

"The age and complexity of these cases has lengthened both the legal and travel documentation processes beyond what we would normally expect," she said.

Shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve described the deportation figures as "outrageous".




SEE ALSO
Foreign prisoner failings exposed
15 Jun 07 |  UK Politics
Bailed sex offender goes missing
15 Jun 07 |  UK Politics

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