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The BBC has just released a new report on Britain's foreign-born population that some people, including the esteemed John Bond are already trumpeting as a rebuttal to those who think Britain is being 'swamped' by foreigners. Whether or not Britain is being swamped is a matter best left to another time, but the problem with these numbers is that they are based around permanent residents and do not appear to include asylum seekers, foreign students or any sort of estimate of illegal immigrants. For instance, if you go to the countries of origin page of the report, there are some pretty fishy statistics for anyone who knows London well. Are there really only 2270 Albanians in the whole of the UK? This is absolute nonsense, as anyone who has spent any time in London over the past several years knows. There may only be that number of Albanian legal residents, but in London alone there are clearly far more Albanians actually living here than that number suggests.
You can see for yourself how off these BBC numbers are on the Home Office's 2004 asylum report. On page 25 there's a graph of removals and voluntary departures of failed asylum seekers from 1996 to 2004 which shows that, over those nine years, about 100,000 people have been deported or have willingly left Britain, including dependants. Skip ahead then to page 32, and you will see that, excluding dependants, in the same time period slightly under 500,000 asylum applications have been received, and that about 223,000 asylum applications have been granted. Weirdly enough, although the report provides raw numbers on how many people have been deported or have voluntarily left, it provides no such number for the amount of dependants of the 223,000 succesful asylum applicants. Now, on page 32 it does state that the removals and voluntary departures accounted for 80,000 applications, which gives, at least in terms of those who have left, about 0.25 dependants per asylum application (roughly 20,000 dependants on top of the 80,000 applications). Anyways, what the data does show is that, besides those who have been granted application and those who have left, there are 200,000 applicants who are basically phantoms, and with a rough guess that that includes 0.25 dependants, that's 250,000 people who are not in the data. This is not a minor number; it's about 0.4% of the overall population.
Approach this BBC report with caution.