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Home Office asylum interviews - research findings

Kamena Dorling

This briefing summarises findings from two pieces of research, in which the Helen Bamber Foundation was involved, looking at people’s experiences of their substantive asylum interviews:

  • The texture of narrative dilemmas: Qualitative study in front-line professionals working with asylum seekers in the UK, 2021
  • The challenges faced during Home Office interview when seeking asylum in the United Kingdom: An interpretative phenomenological analysis, 2022

The briefing aims to highlight the key findings that might be most useful for those working with these groups, including those providing direct support and those designing services and policy. Based on the research findings, HBF makes the following recommendations: 

  1. The Home Office should create a culture of curiosity rather than one of suspicion and disbelief.
  2. Home Office interviewers should gain increased awareness of trauma and PTSD through training, guidance on ongoing supervision, so that they are able to understand the process of disclosure in its complexity with the aim of making the interview environment conducive to gaining asylum seekers’ trust and making them feel safe enough to disclose their full history. Guidance and training should include reference to the Helen Bamber Foundation’s Trauma-Informed Code of Conduct.
  3. All people seeking asylum should be able to make their own decision as to whether to have a remote or face to face interview. They need to be fully informed about the interview process and have the opportunity and space to make that decision, with a full understanding of the risks of going ahead with a remote interview and implications of not going ahead with one.
  4. Where an interview is face to face, interviewers should consider in advance and where possible adjusting features of the interview setting to suit the specific needs of clients, such as lighting and noise levels, as well as the gender of the interviewer and/or interpreter.
  5. Non-verbal information shared by the client, such as signs of distress or symptoms of PTSD, should be incorporated into interview notes as standard practice