UK dispersal policy and onward migration: mapping the current state of knowledge

Emma Stewart

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    29 Citations (Scopus)


    Since 2000, the UK Home Office has implemented a policy of dispersal whereby asylum seekers are housed on a no choice basis in locations around the country. Although the aim of dispersal is to determine local and national movements of asylum seekers, surprisingly little attention has been paid to the role played by dispersal in onward migration flows. Indeed, the majority of literature on UK dispersal has focused upon critiquing the policy for being driven by void housing and concentrating vulnerable populations in deprived, inner city neighbourhoods. Dislocated from existing social networks, asylum seekers have experienced prejudice, racial harassment and isolation. The aim of this article is to sketch out the current state of knowledge on onward migration in the context of UK dispersal policy. Based upon quantitative data analysis and case study material, the complexity of onward migration flows is examined. This includes identifying the geography of onward migration flows as well as the diversity of individuals engaged in movement around the UK, both during the asylum process and after being granted or refused refugee status. Along with relevant literature on past dispersal schemes in the UK, quantitative data is employed to highlight gaps in knowledge as well as discussing ways forward for future data collection and analysis.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)25-49
    Number of pages25
    JournalJournal of Refugee Studies
    Issue number1
    Early online date20 Oct 2011
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • UK dispersal policy
    • asylum seekers
    • refugee mobility
    • onward migration


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