British refugee policy is governed by the United Nations convention relating to the status of refugees and its 1967 protocol, which the UK has signed. Until the late 1980s, the UK was not a popular destination for asylum seekers. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) statistics, in 1988 only 5,700 people lodged applications for asylum. This situation changed in the 1990s: applications rose sharply, reaching a peak of almost 100,000 in 2000, and the UK overtook Germany as the most popular destination for asylum seekers in Europe. Migration once again rose to the top of the political agenda, and the tabloids led a demonic campaign against “scrounging” asylum seekers.
In response to this pressure, the UK adopted a range of measures designed to deter asylum seekers, including reduced social benefits, time limits for lodging applications, the declaring of British airports to be international zones,