New report calls for root and branch reform of Home Office decision-making following Windrush scandal - Refugee Council
news  |  September 19, 2019

New report calls for root and branch reform of Home Office decision-making following Windrush scandal

A new report out today from Freedom from Torture, the Refugee Council and six other leading organisations exposes the historical and systemic failures of asylum decision-making in the UK and makes the case for root-and-branch reform of the asylum and immigration system.

By examining 50 reports from 17 different organisations, including parliamentary committees, the United Nations, nongovernmental organisations, academics, and independent inspectorates, Lessons Not Learned charts a 15-year history of criticism levelled against the Home Office. It identifies trends in the mishandling of asylum claims, and asks the crucial question as to why lessons have still not been learned.

Other co-authors are Helen Bamber Foundation, The Jesuit Refugee Service UK (JRS), Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), Refugee Action, Survivors Speak OUT, and the UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG).

The report highlights several important failures including: 

  • At least 38 of the 50 reports highlighted that the process of gathering relevant information from the applicant was problematic
  • A quarter of the reports noted that Home Office decisions rely on unrealistic and unlawful demands for evidence from asylum applicants
  • A quarter of the reports described Home Office decision makers having a default position that people are not telling the truth
  • There is an inadequate learning culture with the Home Office failing to critically engage with evidence of system failures.

It concludes that: 

  • The Home Office fails to deliver fairly on its responsibilities towards people seeking refuge in the UK. This is a legal and a moral failure.
  • This failure has a human and an economic cost. Those seeking to prove their need for safety have to go through unnecessary, lengthy and often traumatic appeal processes.
  • These failings can and must be delivered by a systemic overhaul – or radical transformation – of the current system.

Responding to the report, Maurice Wren, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, said:

“The systemic mishandling of asylum claims in the UK, over many years, is a shameful scandal with devastating consequences. That those who have looked to Britain for protection from the violence, persecution, rape or torture they have endured, should be treated so unfairly and insensitively at the hands of the UK Home Office, is simply unacceptable. It must end.

“We are pleased to have contributed to this important report which exposes the deep seated and historic dysfunctionality of our asylum decision-making process. The case for root-and-branch reform is unanswerable and we urge the Home Office to act urgently.”

You can read the report in full here – https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/information/resources/lessons-not-learned/