LONDON: The UK Home Office is considering fitting asylum-seekers with electronic tags as a way to prevent those who cannot be placed in a detention facility from fleeing, The Times reported on Sunday.
Under the Illegal Migration Act, the government has a legal duty to detain and remove those arriving in the UK illegally, either to Rwanda or another “safe” country. But officials have been exploring alternatives amid a shortage of available space in Home Office accommodation, the online report said.
Another possibility being considered is requiring asylum-seekers to report regularly to the Home Office in order to receive support such as accommodation or financial aid, a source from the department said.
“Tagging has always been something that the Home Office has been keen on and is the preferred option to withdrawing financial support, which would be legally difficult as migrants would be at risk of being left destitute,” the person said.
When asked about the reports, Home Secretary Suella Braverman told BBC Breakfast: “We’re considering a range of options, all options, to ensure that we can exert some control over those people who are arriving illegally so that we can thereafter remove them to a safe country like Rwanda.
“We will of course need to increase some of our detention capacity.”
Justin Madders, Labour’s shadow employment minister, described the idea as a gimmick.
“The only people you tag are criminals. And my understanding is that people who are coming to this country seeking asylum are not criminals,” he told Sky News.
“They are usually people fleeing persecution. And if there’s a problem with people absconding, this is the first I’ve heard about it. Clearly the solution to that is actually to get on and process the asylum applications a lot quicker than is happening.
“I think this is just another gimmick that is not dealing with the root of the problem at all.”
Despite Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s pledge to “stop the boats,” channel crossings have surpassed 19,000 this year.
On Thursday, the backlog of asylum cases rose to a record of more than 175,000, an increase of 44 percent from the same time last year. The spike came despite the government almost doubling its expenditure on asylum-related matters.