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Is the World 52 Times more Dangerous than 1979?

The Table is from page 33 of House of Commons Library, "Asylum Statistics", 12 September 2023. The "Total grants" figure is the summation of the "Asylum grants" and "Other grants" figures. The "Notes to Table" on page 34 states that: "1. Figures are for main applicants only. 2. Other grants include humanitarian protection, discretionary leave, and grants under family and private life rules".


The Report can be downloaded as a PDF here:

UK Asylum Figures to Dec 22
Download PDF • 674KB

In this article we take a look at the UK asylum figures since 1978, and we show that the figures today are hugely disproportionate to Britain's historic norms.


As we see from the above Table, large numbers of applications for asylum in the UK is a relatively recent phenomenon, beginning in 1989 when 11,640 primary applications were made. Primary applications do not include dependents.


This was followed in 1990 with 26,205 and peaking in 2002 with 84,130 primary applications, or over 100,000 when dependants are included (1) – by which time Britain was the most attractive destination for asylum seekers in the developed world, more so even than the USA. (2)

The summary of the Report (p5) tell us that:   

The 81,130 applications made in 2022 related to 99,939 individuals (main applicants and dependents).      

APPLICATIONS for ASYLUM in the 1970s

The above Table goes back to 1984. So what about applications for asylum prior to then?


It seems that during the 1950s, 60s and 70s applications for asylum appear to have been so few that it is difficult to find related statistics.


The earliest official data of applications we have found is the 1979 figure which lists only 1,563 primary applications for refugee status (3) and 525 grants of refugee status. (4)


The earliest figure for grants of refugee status we found is 400 in 1978, as below.


In March 2008 we checked the Race Relations Bulletin, published monthly since 1969 by the pro-immigration group, the Runnymede Trust. We checked number 4 (August 1969) to number 141 (March 1982). (5)


We could not find a single mention of the word "asylum" or "refugee" in the issues we were able to examine to number 38, (December 1972), even though it published a running total of immigration figures each month. (6)


We find the word "refugee" for the first time in number 39, January 1973, in the renamed Runnymede Trust Bulletin, in relation to the Ugandan Asians. We are told 26,000 arrived from Uganda after President Amin's expulsion order. (7) Many of these people held a form of UK citizenship and so are not directly equivalent to asylum seekers today.


Reference is made to Chilean refugees, with 1,873 arriving up to the end of January 1977. (8) However, they were required to apply in Chile and many who applied did not take up the offer of a place in Britain.


The only other refugees mentioned in the issues up to March 1982 are Cypriots and Vietnamese "boat" refugees. We couldn't find any figures for Cypriots in its pages. However, we learn that by 31 January 1979, 1,122 Vietnamese had been given permission to settle in the UK since May 1975 and another 1,500 were expected over the next 12-15 months. (9)


The first mention of the word "asylum" which we can find is in June 1977 in reference to it being "on the increase." (10)



Social Trends was published by the government since 1970. Each year, it encapsulated the relevant statistics on British society and social policy until it stopped publication in 2012. Since issue number 1 it had a section on migration, and we checked every issue up to 2008.


It included a detailed article in its 1972 issue which explained how the immigration figures for the UK were calculated (11), but it didn't mention "refugee" or "asylum" once. Indeed, it is not until the 1983 issue when the word "refugee" appears for the first time, in relation to South East Asian refugees. (12)


It is not until the 1985 issue when the category "Refugees" makes an entry in a table.



It is in this 1985 issue that we find that 400 refugees (13) had been accepted for settlement back in 1978 – there is no mention of the number of applicants that year.


The same table goes back to 1974 and we find there is nothing listed under "1974", perhaps because no statistics were kept. Similarly, in a later issue, there is nothing listed under "1975". (14)


We have been unable to find figures for 1976 and 1977 – they do not appear in any issue of Social Trends – and it may be that 1978 was the first year in which asylum statistics were considered relevant enough to be documented, albeit only the number of acceptances.


It is not until 1988 that Social Trends begins to publish separate charts, tables and breakdowns specific to asylum applications and acceptances, which it continued until it ceased publication in 2012.



To recap: In 1979 there were 1,563 primary applications for asylum and in 2022 there were 81,130 (excluding dependents).


That's 52 times more! Has the world really become 52 times more dangerous since 1979? 


After all, the 1970s – during the height of the Cold War – was a very dangerous time world-wide.


The fact is that the world is not more dangerous, because it is always dangerous in some part of the world!

The massive increase is a result of many people using the asylum route fraudulently for economic reasons.


This has been facilitated by the following reasons:


1. In the 1970s, the legal concept of "human rights" – which provides the prevailing legal context for immigration and asylum law, and which is constantly expanding the idea of what is, and what is not, "persecution" – was yet to become institutionalised in UK politics.


2. Consequently, there was no "immigration industry" in the UK. There were few legal firms catering to the immigration and asylum market. There were very few "charities" and NGOs, with a vested financial, or ideological interest in working to perpetuate the immigration and asylum market.


3. In the intervening years, there has been a complete victory of this legal sector, and the charity and NGO sector over the UK Government. Their victory has been so complete that we are at the point today where even a Conservative Government will pay millions of pounds of British Taxpayers' money each year to these organisations to help them oppose the Government's own policies on immigration and asylum!


See for example:


Group of 265 charities, focused largely on helping refugees and migrants, calls legislation 'threat to the universality of human rights'", The Daily Telegraph, online on 1 February 2024.


Steven Edginton, "No 10 Pays £1m to Pro-Migrant Charity that calls UK Borders 'Systematically Racist'. Left-wing Paul Hamlyn Foundation has received government grants since 2020, according to Charity Commission accounts", The Daily Telegraph, 31 May 2023


4. In the 1970s, there was not the massive pull-factor of generous UK welfare payments which exist today leading to many "economic migrants" using the asylum route as a means of entry.


5. Mass communication methods have since become much easier and more widespread and it is now well-known that the UK is "a soft touch". Transport methods have become more accessible.


These factors combine to mean that the ability to claim asylum – often fraudulently – is limited only by people's ability to get here.


Yet our mainstream politicians are still behaving like nothing has changed since 1978.

It's time to overhaul the legal framework, and to de-fund the "immigration industry" – which means removing all British Taxpayer funding from the legal firms, "charities" and NGOs which have a vested financial and/or ideological interest in perpetuating this massive movement of people into the UK.



1. Home Office, Asylum Statistics: United Kingdom 2002, Home Office Statistical Bulletin, 28 August 2003 at 5.


2. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Field information and coordination support section, Division of operational services, "Asylum levels and trends in Industrialized Countries, 2006: Overview of asylum applications lodged in European and non-European industrialized countries in 2006", Geneva, 23 March 2007, (downloaded 10-2-24) at 10.


3. Home Office, Refugee Statistics, United Kingdom, 1987, Home Office statistical bulletin, Issue 16/88, 2 June 1988 at Table 1.


4. Ibid at Table 2.


5. The Strathclyde University collection is missing issues 1-3, 20, 23, 26, 28, 29, 33, 35, 36, 37, 47 and 110.


6.  See for example, Dipak Nandy, "Statistics of Immigration: Correction", Race Relations Bulletin, The Runnymede Trust, No. 27, Dec 1971 at 2-3.


7. Runnymede Trust Bulletin, No. 42, April 1973 at 4.


8. Ibid, No. 85, March 1977 at 3.


9. Ibid, No. 111, July 1979 at 3.


10. Ibid, No. 88, June 1977 at 4.


11. C A Moser, "Statistics about immigrants: Objectives, sources, methods and problems", Social Trends, No. 3, (London: HMSO, 1972) at 20-30.


12. Central Statistical Office, Social Trends, No. 13, (London: HMSO, 1983) at 21.


13. Central Statistical Office, Social Trends, No. 15, (London: HMSO, 1985) at Table 1.19 at 29.


14. Central Statistical Office, Social Trends, No. 17, (London: HMSO, 1987) at Table 1.17 at 38.




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