New data obtained in a joint investigation by the Observer and Liberty Investigates has found at least 107 deaths of asylum seekers who were provided with Home Office housing between April 2016 and May 2022, far more than officially admitted. Eighty-two have died since January 2020.
At least 17 people died by suicide or suspected suicide, according to analysis of Home Office records released under information laws. Half of those who have died since the start of 2020 (41) were flagged as having a safeguarding element a label officials assign to individuals recognised as having vulnerabilities or needs such as a health problem.
There were four deaths in 2019, rising to 36 in 2020, 40 last year and six so far this year. A steady increase in the numbers accommodated by the Home Office does not appear to explain the steeply rising death rate.
The details of several cases raise questions about apparent “systemic failures”, including potential gaps in safeguarding policies and alleged lapses following them.
We, therefore, raise questions about the efficiency of the Home Office, which is primarily responsible for protecting the asylum seekers recognised by the government.
We also demand an urgent, independent inspection of the accommodation, healthcare and safeguarding provided for asylum seekers.