Counting the Uncountable: Data and Trends across Europe - Irregular Migration in the UK (Clandestino)

September 2007 - August 2009
Overview Partners Outputs
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This research formed part of the larger CLANDESTINO project, which analysed irregular migration in 12 EU and 3 non-EU (transit) countries in an effort to support policy makers in designing and implementing appropriate policies regarding undocumented migration. In the UK, the term ‘irregular migration’ tends to refer to people who are seen as having entered the country illegally. In a wider discursive context, other terms are commonly used, including ‘unlawful’, ‘unauthorised’ and ‘undocumented’. Definitional problems are just one part of this complex phenomenon, which is hard to pin down in terms of its scope, nature, surrounding discourses and state responses.

Focusing on the UK, the COMPAS research team critically explored sources of data and estimates of irregular migration and, in particular, the validity and reliability of the data and methods used in their production. The project also analysed pathways into irregularity, such as the reasons for, and ways in which, migrants become irregular, while also looking at the policies and discourses (‘number games’) on irregular migration that can lead to certain misconceptions. Finally, it developed ethical guidelines for the research of irregular migration. Research findings were disseminated among and discussed with local and national policy communities of several EU countries, thus raising the awareness of policy makers and social partners concerning the methodological and ethical issues involved in the collection and use of data/estimates on undocumented migration.

Principal Investigator

Franck Düvell


Bastian Vollmer


European Commission Research DG, Sixth Framework Programme, Priority 8