An unpublished UKBA internal investigation has rejected the complaints made by Louise Perrett about the Cardiff asylum team. A summary has been made available. The existence of the ‘grant monkey’ was confirmed, but seems to have been found to be entirely benign. No racial overtones to it, then, and no questions to be answered about why there was a toy monkey for grants but not for refusals. It’s like chucking bananas onto the football pitch – simply to make sure the players have a healthy lunch available, of course.
It also emerged that the trade union in Cardiff may have told its members not to co-operate with the investigation. This may have had the effect of persuading two members of staff who had come forward with information to change their minds and decline to participate. The union was the Public and Commercial Services Union. If true, this is an absolute disgrace. You can draw your own conclusions on that union’s alleged commitment to equality and fairness.
All that said, the response of UKBA actually looks quite impressive:
- to overhaul the Agency’s approach to credibility issue, starting with a new Asylum Instruction and new training interventions associated with it;
- an increase from 20% to 50% 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;
- to invite the Wales Refugee Council, with other key local partners, to help us design some awareness sessions for staff to deal with some of the concerns the report raises;
- to institute a new arrangement in Wales to ensure staff really can raise concerns outside their line management line.
An overhaul of the approach to credibility would be most incredibly welcome. Some of the ‘reasons’ given in rejecting asylum claims are woefully awful embarrassments.