Destitution has been "built in" to the asylum seeking process in the UK and the system is leaving people at risk of being exploited, the Scottish Refugee Council has warned.

The organisation described the Home Office process as "senseless and inhumane" during an appearance at Holyrood's Equalities and Human Rights Committee.

The committee is taking evidence in its inquiry on the issue of destitution among asylum seekers, or those with insecure immigration status in Scotland.

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Under the current system, people who claim asylum once in the UK instead of upon arrival are required to travel to Croydon to access the process, Graham O'Neill, policy officer for the Scottish Refugee Council, told MSPs.

"Most people arrive in the UK to claim protection in country as opposed to at port, the vast majority do. (They) then have to go to Croydon," he said.

"The risks to people in that around exploitation are significant.

"People go into this twilight world where we don't really know how people get to Croydon to access the asylum procedure.

"Some people do it through their own means, some people will do it through charities such as ourselves, but with other people, we don't know how that's going to happen.

"We think that is unacceptable, but we also think it's quite senseless as well, given that the Home Office have a network of offices where people could access the procedure."

Mr O'Neill said the issue is compounded when people attempt to re-access the process if they have fresh evidence to support their asylum claim.

He said statistics covering the past decade show around 20% of people who have been destitute because they were refused asylum have been successful through putting in a fresh claim.

"From January 2015 the Home Office made it very difficult... for people who have been refused asylum looking to re-access the procedure with fresh evidence," he added.

"It is just the senselessness aside from the inhumanity of this. They're two examples of why destitution is built in to the asylum process.

"It can be serious forms of exploitation people are suffering which are directly stemming from the way that the UK Government, the Home Office, have constructed accessing and re-accessing the asylum procedure."

A Home Office spokesman said: "The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection.

"We have always been clear that anyone seeking asylum should do so at their port of entry, so only those who have failed to claim asylum on arrival have to travel to Croydon.

"Where we identify vulnerable individuals, claims can be handled locally on an exceptional basis. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis."