This section provides available statistical information relating to asylum seekers and refugees followed by data relating to the minority ethnic population in Leicester and other contextual information about the city.

Asylum seekers

According to NASS figures, the largest groups of asylum seekers supported are Turks, Somalis, Iraqis, Zimbabweans, Iranians and Afghanis. According to Home Office data, there were a total of 693 people dispersed to Leicester in the spring of 2006. 263 people out of this group were the main applicants and the rest were their dependants. The East Midlands Consortium for Asylum and Refugee Support (EMCARS) estimated that since the beginning of the policy of dispersal in 2000 and up to 2006, around 10,000 asylum seekers have been dispersed to the East Midlands, with estimates of the proportion of asylum seekers gaining refugee status varying between 35% and 50%. NASS ceased to exist as a directorate in 2008 and was replaced by the United Kingdom Borders Agency(UKBA).

 Year Subsistence Only   Accommodation
 2005 265 698
 2006 199 679
 2007 155 691
 2008 (Q4)
 95 470
 2009 (Q1)
Not published
Not published

 Source: Home Office Quarterly asylum Statistics.

Regional statistical data does exist for asylum seekers who are supported by the Home Office via NASS. Often people use this data and the percentage of asylum seekers receiving a positive decision as an indicator for the potential refugee population. However, this can be misleading, as when people receive status they may move to another area (such as a larger multicultural city where they have contacts) and recognition rate differ hugely depending on nationalities. Furthermore, these figures do not include the people who were not receiving support from the government at the time of their decision. As shown above, at the end of December 2008, asylum seekers in receipt of subsistence only support in Leicester amount to 95, of a total of 195 for the East Midlands. The total figure for the United Kingdom is 6,195. And for the same period asylum seekers supported in accommodation amounted to 470, of a total of 1,155 for the East Midlands. The total figure for the United Kingdom is 25,145.

Once someone who is supported by NASS becomes a refugee and is able to access mainstream services, NASS may inform local agencies to alert them to the fact that there may be someone in need of their services locally, but this does not happen systematically and agencies may not keep this data. Statutory bodies that are required to serve refugees as part of the local population are often good sources of data, as they are required to collect data and conduct research to underpin service delivery. For example, the local education service should have statistics on refugee and asylum seeking children in their area. Social services should have data on unaccompanied minors who have received positive decisions. Similarly, the local health service may have aggregate data on its refugee population. Local refugee agencies and groups could also be a good source for anecdotal estimates or aggregate data from client databases.

Census data does not include a question on immigration status, so this data would not offer much information about asylum seekers in the area. However, it does provide disaggregated data on country of birth; therefore, it is possible to make broad speculations by looking at the data relating to countries with high numbers of asylum applicants. E.g. looking at the data on people born in Somalia in Leicester can provide some information on the size of the Somali community there, a significant number of whom may be refugees.


It is very difficult to calculate the number of refugees in any given city. This is because the Home Office only keeps statistics on the number of asylum seekers that are being accommodated and/or supported. As a result estimates on the number of refugees can only be made using research or client data collected by relevant agencies. It is also the case that data is not collected on the location of individuals awarded ELR, HP or DL and asylum seekers that are not accommodated or supported by the Home Office.

In 2006, NIACE commissioned a report to estimate the number of refugees who had settled in the cities of Leicester, Nottingham and Derby and established a estimated figure of 9,000 refugees in the region as of 2005.

Minority ethnic population

Outside of London, Leicester has the largest Black and minority ethnic population in England and Wales, at 36% of the total population. There are a variety of communities from Asian background in the city with a concentration of residents from this ethnic group in the Coleman (46.88%), Latimer (74.13%) and Spinney Hills (59.67%) wards. The Indian population make up 26%, primarily from East Africa and Gujurat in India, while the Pakistani, Bangladeshi and other Asian communities amount to 4%. The city's African and African Caribbean communities comprise of 3%. (Census 2001as compiled by Leicester City Council, 2005).


Asylum Seekers are not allowed to take up paid employment in the UK. However, those who have been waiting for more than 12 months for an initial decision on their asylum claim can apply to the Home Office for permission to work according to EU council directive 2003/9/EC. This remains a contentious issue as many are denied permission to work, and there are a number of Right to Work campaigns by the Refugee Council and trade unions underway. 

Refugees and those with subsidiary forms of protection such as Humanitarian Protection (HP) and Discretionary Leave to Remain (DLR) are allowed to work but must first obtain a National Insurance number by calling the National Insurance Allocation Service. They can then access mainstream services such as the Jobcentre Plus.


The Aqoon Community Education and Training Services provide out of hours learning opportunities for Somali school children (study and homework club) to improve the educational achievement of Somali children in Leicester. They work in partnership with several other organizations including The Somali Development Services.


According to a Home Office report in 2006/2007 the total recorded crime rate in the East Midlands region (100 offences per 1,000 population) was the same as the overall rate for England and Wales. The recorded crime rates in the East Midlands were also similar to that of England and Wales across offence groups. The levels of crime by police force areas decreased  in all of the police force areas in the East midlands region with the exception of Leicestershire which increased by two percent. Between 2005/06 and 2006/07 Leicestershire recorded the highest percentage increase in burglary(4%), offences against vehicles (6%) and one of the highest rates of criminal damage (6%) along with Derbyshire. Information on the Government Offices East Midlands website (source Office of National Statistics) highlights Leicester as one of the four designated High Crime Areas in The East Midlands. The key challenges faced by local partners include violent crime and criminal damage. Leicester has a strong record for tackling anti-social behaviour, hence the city has been designated one of forty Respect Action Areas in England and the Youth Task force support for a local family intervention project, they've also been chosen as a pilot area for the use of single non-emergency number aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour.  

Religious diversity

The large population of Indian origin has resulted in Leicester having significantly high proportions of residents indicating their religion as Hindu (14.74% of the religiously-aligned population) or Sikh (3.8%).There is also a growing population of Muslims, over 11% of the population. The national ranking placed Leicester as 3rd, 10th and 17th respectively for these three religions. (2001 Census, as published by the Leicester City Council)

Last Updated: 06/10/09


ICAR is based at the Runnymede Trust.



Search our database of asylum and refugee research in London More

Research Directory

Search ICAR's Research Directory More


Register with us to receive ICAR's newsletter. More