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UK Border Agency: 'Fast And Fair?'

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The , Ann Abraham, published a report on the entitled 'Fast and Fair?' this week.

The Ombudsman is appointed by the Crown / executive branch of Government and investigates whether public agencies have acted improperly or unfairly.  In the first nine months of 2009-10 the Ombudsman received 478 complaints about the Agency.  It reported on 33 investigations of which 97% were upheld in full or in part.

'Fast and Fair?' includes analysis of eleven case studies referred to the Ombudsman by MPs.  In one case, a Jamaican man was granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK in 1990.  But it took the Agency 3 1/2 years to provide him with a No Time Limit stamp confirming his right to stay in the UK for his new 2004 Jamaican passport.  During this time the man was threatened with deportation and missed the funerals of his father and sister and was unable to visit his ill mother in the Caribbean as he was afraid he would not be allowed back into the country.

Ms. Abraham notes that:

"We have seen progress, but the Agency still has a long way to go.

"They've made significant progress in recent years towards clearing their backlogs, but progress has been slow because of the scale of the problem.

"They need to make sustained and consistent progress towards their commitment to meeting their service standards, clearing existing backlogs and avoiding them in future - because the implications of them not doing so are serious and far-reaching, both for the individuals caught up in the system and for society as a whole.

"Given the scale of the problem, there can be no short-term fix, and the resolution will need to be founded on clear and consistent priorities, supported by good forward planning and adequate resources.  I hope that the lessons to be learnt from this report will also be of benefit to the Agency as they continue on their journey to improved customer service and complaint handling."

Responding to the report, UK Border Agency Chief Executive Lin Homer had this to say:

"We take the Ombudsman's recommendations seriously and welcome the assessment that our complaints systems are improving.

"The UK Border Agency is continuing to make progress in dealing with the legacy backlog of older asylum cases and has already concluded more than 235,000 cases.  I am confident we are on course to conclude these by the summer of 2011."

** UK Border Agency - additional information & advice **

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