Wednesday, 3 February 2010
Not such a warm welcome
I have been horrified by the report featured in the Guardian newspaper of a former case worker’s experience at the Border Agency offices in Cardiff.
What Louise Perrett discovered during her three and a half months of employment last summer makes for uncomfortable reading and questions need to be raised at the highest level.
Her account suggests racism is rampant and asylum applicants are treated inhumanely, at best. In one of the more shocking anecdotes, Ms Perrett said her former colleagues kept a stuffed gorilla dubbed the “grant monkey” which was placed as a badge of shame on the desk of any officer who approved an asylum application. A manager is also reported to have said of the asylum-seeker clients: "If it was up to me I'd take them all outside and shoot them."
Just as worrying was Perrett’s claim she was given the power to make legally binding decisions on whether asylum seekers were granted or refused asylum after five weeks of training. If life-changing decisions are being taken after an induction lasting just over a month, then the legitimacy of so many applications have to be questioned. People in desperate need may have been deported from the UK on a whim because of a lack of understanding and a lack of knowledge, stemming from a lack of adequate training.
As I write, a protest against charter flight deportations is taking place outside the Border Agency offices on Newport Road by No Borders South Wales. It has greater significance in the light of these allegations.
There have been calls for an investigation. I hope that no stone is left unturned if an inquiry is given the go-ahead and that robust action is taken if the allegations are proven. This behaviour has no place in Wales. Racist attitudes in a high-profile Government office charged with making life or death decisions should not be tolerated.