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Home Office Course for Employees Designed to Prevent "Further Reputational Damage"

Details of a 2020 Home Office course designed to avoid “further reputational damage” to the department have been unearthed.

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    “The Face Behind the Case”

    The training course aimed at Home Office visas and immigration employees also urges them to show greater levels of empathy when dealing with cases.

    For instance, the course suggests that visa applicants and asylum seekers should be referred to as “customers”, and features reminders to staff that “a human being sits behind every case file and reference number”.

    Fittingly, the course itself is named “The Face Behind the Case”.

    The course was introduced in 2020 in the wake of the Windrush scandal, with details of the course’s contents only having been made available to the press and the general public this week.

    UK passport

    Internal Concerns Over Reputational Damage

    In addition to passages within the course that instruct staff with greater empathy, there is also heavy emphasis on the general reputation of the Home Office’s visa and immigration departments, and how it has eroded in the wake of scandals such as Windrush.

    For example, the course states: “Our competence, humanity and reputation have been called into question. Work is ongoing to rectify the mistakes that have been made…Increased customer satisfaction adds to improved departmental reputation and mitigates against negative publicity.”

    The importance to avoid further damage to the Home Office’s reputation and general perception is allegedly repeated within the course several times.

    Lack of Genuine Changes Observed

    Despite the course content, it has been commented that there is a lack of real, observable change in the Home Office’s approach to visa or asylum applications.

    The communications director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, Ravishaan Rahel Muthiah, has stated that the charity has seen “no progress in addressing the pervasive culture of disbelief and refusal” from government departments.

    He further goes on to criticise the current government’s “hostile” approach that “demonises migrants”.

    This is in contrast to the Home Office course, which encourages employees to “look at how we can recognise the human face of all people who come into contact with the Home Office”.

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