To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 4 December 2018 to Question 195486 on guardianship for unaccompanied and separated children, what steps his Department is taking to (a) improve the (i) quality and (ii) timeliness of asylum decision making and (b) to ensure that decision makers understand the effects trauma can have on unaccompanied young people navigating the asylum system.
The Home Office takes its responsibility for the welfare of children very seriously, including ensuring that the best interests of the child are a primary consideration in every decision taken in respect of the child. We are committed to ensuring that all asylum claims are considered without unnecessary delay, so that those who need protection are granted as soon as possible and can start to integrate and rebuild their lives.
We continue to work to improve the quality of decision-making to ensure that we get decisions right the first time and that we properly consider all evidence provided.
We aim to reduce the proportion of allowed appeals by analysing the reasons and using this to inform and further improve guidance and training. Similarly, the Home Office’s country information and guidance is kept under review.
UKVI has an internal audit process which assesses the quality of decisions, interviews and the application of Home Office policy. We have Senior Case Worker assessments as well as independent auditors from the Central Operations Assurance Team who audit asylum cases and provide quarterly reports.
We have plans to improve the speed at which outstanding asylum claims are decided. These include rolling recruitment campaigns to maintain decision maker levels, a staff retention strategy to ensure it retains its highly skilled asylum decision makers, and the further expansion of digital processes to increase case working flexibility.
All asylum decision-makers who consider accompanied and unaccompanied young people’s cases must attend a three day Keeping Children Safe: Tier 3 course. Part of this course is dedicated to educating decision-makers
so that they can appreciate the complex psychology of asylum-seeking children. Included in this section of the course is a consideration of the effects of trauma on young children navigating the asylum system.
All decision makers also receive extensive training on how to interview asylum seekers in a sensitive way and consider the claim for sustainable decisions to be reached. We ensure that claimants are given every opportunity to disclose information relevant to their claim before a decision is taken, even where that information may be sensitive or difficult to disclose.
The Home Office monitors its processes to ensure that it adheres to the very stringent statutory and policy safeguards in place regarding unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. The children’s asylum process differs to the adult process and was designed around the additional needs of children.
While in the UK, unaccompanied children are looked after by local authorities who have a statutory duty to ensure that they safeguard and promote the welfare of all children, regardless of their immigration status or nationality. Under these arrangements, children are assessed with regard to their individual needs and provided with access to education, accommodation and health services, as would be provided to any other looked after child in the UK.