Move aims at overhauling its approach to credibility issue
28th July 2010: The UK Border Agency will soon be coming out with a new asylum instruction to overhaul its approach to credibility issue.
The assertion follows professional standards unit’s investigation into the allegations leveled by the UK Border Agency’s former worker Louise Perrett about her experiences.
Perrett had claimed she saw absolutely horrific’ behaviour of immigration workers, but investigation into the allegations has found “no evidence to corroborate her claims that there is a cultural problem within the asylum teams in Cardiff”.
In response, the UKBA has also decided “to invite the Wales Refugee Council, with other key local partners, to help design some awareness sessions for staff to deal with some of the concerns the report raises”.
It also plans to “institute a new arrangement in Wales to ensure staff really can raise concerns outside their line management line”.
The UKBA has asserted: `We believe that this has been a useful exercise for the UK Border Agency and are sure that our Agency will be the better for it. We welcome the chance this has given us to have a focused look at ourselves and devise a response accordingly.
`We have fully considered the report of the investigation. While there is not a sufficient body of evidence to warrant disciplinary proceedings being taken against individuals there is enough in the report to cause us significant concern.
`We intend to act in response to it and key elements of our response will be to overhaul the Agency’s approach to credibility issue, starting with a new asylum instruction and new training interventions associated with it; and an increase from 20 per cent to 50 per cent of decisions being made in Cardiff being assessed against the UNHCR quality assurance matrix.
`There is no evidence to date of the quality of decisions in Cardiff being affected by the issues highlighted. But we need to make doubly sure that remains the case,’ it added.
The report has also made a number of recommendations, including: `There should be no disciplinary charges brought in respect of the UK Border Agency officers involved in this investigation.
The other recommendations are: `Consideration should be given to it becoming a disciplinary offence for staff to fail to challenge inappropriate behaviour. It further recommends that consideration should be given to whether there are other ways in which inappropriate behaviour can be routinely challenged by all staff.
`The UK Border Agency should consider engagement with the PCS concerning advice they gave to their members not to come forward with evidence for the investigation to encourage full cooperation from Union representatives.
`The Agency should consider whether there is a need for a mentoring process for new or temporary members of staff ensuring that they are able to address concerns formally and without fear of penalty.
`Cardiff staff should be reminded of the appropriate channels in which to raise concerns ensuring they know how to access it and provided support when doing so.
`Consideration should be given to minimum contract terms for staff undertaking roles in which a large amount of time is invested in their training; and all staff within the Wales and South West Region should be reminded of the appropriate tests that can be used to assess the credibility of an applicant’s claim.