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“Beyond Belief” – Home Office Asylum Interviews Reveal a  Culture Tainted by Prejudgement

Freedom from Torture today publishes a new report “Beyond Belief” on the experience of the asylum interview for torture survivors seeking asylum in the UK. The report argues that the Home Office repeatedly breaches its own guidelines, and calls for a fundamental culture change.

Key findings:

– Arriving in Britain, traumatised from torture and sexual violence, as well as a harrowing journey, survivors are often prevented from giving a full account of their experiences or are denied the opportunity to explain the relevance of their evidence. The Home Office fails to follow its own guidance and aspiration to create a ‘positive and secure environment’ for the survivor.

– Home Office case workers have been found to employ poor questioning technique and are likely to prejudge aspects of the account during the interview. Sensitivity and professional approach to claimants is not always maintained.

– An experience of torture is not consistently identified at this stage of questioning despite being a critical indicator of both vulnerability and risk of harm on return.

– If done badly, the asylum interview may hamper the caseworker’s ability to make a prompt, fair and safe decision on the claim. This can mean that people desperately in need of protection are sent back to torture and persecution.

–  Many people leave the interview feeling dehumanised, re-traumatised and despairing of getting a fair decision.

Read more and download the report at Freedom From Torture.

We also add a Personal Reflection on the report from

Trustee and volunteer North West Coordinator Jeff Morgan who is a retired psychiatrist has share his personal reflections  on this important report with us.