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Deciding people’s fate in 2.5 hours

Asylum caseworkers at their desks

The Home Office has denied taking “arbitrary” decisions on asylum cases in order to meet deportation targets, but an asylum caseworker says staff have to work so fast that the results are a “lottery” – one that could result in people being sent home to their deaths. He contacted the BBC because he wants the public to know how the system operates. As he would lose his job if identified, we have called him “Alex”.

Every day Alex reads the case files of people who have fled armed conflict. People who have been persecuted because of their politics, race, religion or sexuality. People who have experienced torture and sexual violence.

It’s his job to decide whether these people, all asylum seekers, should be allowed to stay in the UK or be deported.

Deciding people’s fate in 2.5 hours
Deciding people’s fate in 2.5 hours

And yet, when he walks into work, he is greeted by a scene that wouldn’t look out of place at a call centre selling double glazing. A leader board hangs on the wall displaying who is hitting their targets and who isn’t, and performance managers pace the floor asking for updates on progress as often as once an hour.

Staff who don’t meet their targets risk losing their jobs.

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