Asylum Seekers are people who are outside their country of nationality or their usual country of residence, and apply to the government of the country they are in for recognition as a refugee as well as permission to stay should they be recognised. Their application for refugee status is based on fear of persecution in their own country for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion. Following changes in the law due to the Immigration and Asylum Act of 1999, asylum seekers that arrived after April 2000 no longer had a right to assistance and did not have to be provided for by the Council. Instead, the Home Office provided support through the National Asylum Support Service (NASS). Derby has been identified by the National Asylum Seekers Service (NASS) as one of the cluster areas for the support of asylum seekers in the East Midlands.
As a result, over the last two years, Derby has experienced an increase in its asylum seeker and refugee population. There are now some 35 different asylum seekers communities in Derby. “Currently, NASS is supporting 1,367 people in Derby - 217 more than the city should have, according to the agency's own guidelines of placing one asylum seeker per 200 of the existing population - which is around 230,000.” (www.derbygripe.co.uk) Increasing number of asylum seekers is causing a "serious strain" on housing and health services and that the city is unable to cope with a continued influx of asylum seekers. (www.regenerationem.co.uk) The Fountain Primary Care Service in Sale Street, Rose Hill, opened in March 2003 exclusively for asylum seekers arriving in Derby. Former patients were dispersed in various nearby surgeries.
They have been provided with quality housing, education facilities and generous government benefits. The Government announced it will stop sending asylum seekers to Derby - at least for the time being.
Mass immigration of asylum seekers has created a 'whole new range of crimes' threatening the city. Genuine asylum seekers are being used as a cover for criminal gangs, Chris Fox, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said the mass movement of people around the world had brought new levels of organised crime, with drug dealing, gun offences, prostitution and kidnapping. (The Observer, May 18, 2003) Few Home-Office officials are faking documents and Ids, coaching bogus asylum seekers on how to cheat the system using loopholes. (The Sun, July 27, 2006) Assisted Voluntary Return Programme was introduced but has been misused by few. Thousands of failed asylum seekers are being paid up to £3,500 to leave the country and start a life in their home country but either they come back under different identities or don’t leave the Britain land by turning and twisting the law accordingly. Increasing number of asylum seekers is posing a big problem on national economy and population. Failed asylum seekers in Derby are being forced into a life of crime because they are not allowed to work. As soon as an application for asylum is turned down, the failed applicants are stripped of state support and are not entitled to legally work in the UK.
The Observer, May 18, 2003, Kamal Ahmed, “Immigrants Behind the Crime Wave –Police”
The Sun, July 27, 2006, Anthony France, “Home Office Asylum Racket”Parimita Chakravorty