Refugee Families

In response to a recent campaign on refugee families, David said: 

"The UK strongly supports the principle of family unity, and there are already legal routes for families to be reunited safely. Currently, family reunion policy allows a spouse or partner and children under the age of 18 of those granted protection in the UK to join them in the United Kingdom and if they formed part of the family unit before the sponsor fled their country. Under this policy, over 24,000 family reunion visas have been granted over the last five years. They will remain when the UK leaves the European Union and are not affected by Brexit. Furthermore, children recognised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as refugees can join close family members here in the UK through the Mandate resettlement scheme. In addition, the Immigration Rules provide for family reunion and allow extended family members to sponsor children where there are serious and compelling circumstances.

I appreciate your view that the Government should expand the scheme; however as I understand it there are no plans to widen the criteria. The criteria are fully compliant with the UK's international obligations, and enable thousands of people each year to be reunited with their families in the UK. Discretionary resettlement schemes are also in place for recognised refugees for whom resettlement is most appropriate. These schemes are operated in partnership with the UNHCR, and include Gateway, Mandate, Children at Risk, and the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme."

Asylum for Victims of Torture

In response to the campaign on asylum for victims of torture, David said:

"Granting protection to those who need it and refusing those who do not, in an efficient and effective a way, is crucial.

I have been assured that all members of staff who make asylum decisions receive a comprehensive level of training. This includes a dedicated five-week Foundation Training Programme that includes training on international and domestic law and safeguarding issues, which is supplemented by a mentoring programme with an experienced decision maker that lasts from three to six months.

The course is explicit that decision makers must not make clinical judgements and must properly consider evidence and give appropriate weight to all evidence presented in order to reach an informed decision, only rejecting claims when there is a significant reason to do so. It includes example medico-legal reports which the trainees must analyse and interpret as part of a number of practical exercises. 

Following training, there is a quality assurance process in place involving technical specialists embedded within each team, senior caseworkers within each unit and a national internal quality audit team who ensure that all policies are complied with when decisions are made.

I should also highlight that Asylum Operations recently received funding from the Asylum Migration and Integration Fund to review and redevelop its training manual. Asylum Operations is cooperating with a range of charities and non-governmental organisations, to ensure that there is effective safeguarding training.

The cases of those who have been abused who claim asylum in the UK must be processed quickly and efficiently, and I am assured the procedures are in place to do so."

More information about the campaign can be found here.