Special procedural guarantees

United Kingdom

Country Report: Special procedural guarantees Last updated: 24/04/24


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The Home Office has introduced the notion of “safeguarding leads”, supervised by a senior official as head of the “safeguarding hub”. There is limited information on the work of these hubs, however, as the safeguarding policy is an internal document, although limited detail is available through the funding document.[1] More information about the safeguarding hubs and the Home Office’s approach to vulnerable adults can be found in the 2019 inspection report from the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.[2]

Guidance on gender issues in the asylum claim sets out good practice in recognising gender-specific forms of persecution and the difficulties that women may face in accessing protection.[3] The guidance recognises that discrimination may amount to persecution in countries where serious legal, cultural or social restrictions are placed upon women, and the need to be rigorous in understanding country of origin information when deciding women’s claims.

Guidance on the substantive interview was revised in 2022 and addresses issues of disclosure, gender-based violence as well as experiences of torture.[4] For victims of gender based persecution the guidance states that it would be inappropriate for the interviewer to question the applicant about the act itself, but that information about the events leading up to and after the act should be obtained. On disclosure, the guidance states that this may not happen during the interview and that applicants may be more comfortable with disclosing highly sensitive information to their legal representative, clinician or support worker. Applicants may also specify the gender of their interviewing officer in advance, or request that the interview is omitted. For victims of torture, the guidance provides a list of questions that may be used, and instructs those interviewing that they should stop this line of questioning as soon as they think it is likely that the torture has taken place, to avoid unnecessary distress.

There are limited concessions to the requirement to make an asylum claim in person. Discretion is afforded to UKVI staff to allow someone to register a claim more locally if they are unable to travel to the Asylum Intake Unit due to severe health or disability issues or, with the agreement of an NGO in Scotland. Previous guidance to this effect appears to have been withdrawn.

People with mental illness severe enough to affect their mental capacity may have a publicly funded representative at their asylum interview.[5]

Exemption from detention and special procedures

There are no other procedural guarantees in law for vulnerable adult applicants relating to decision-making or application process, except that they should not, according to policy, be detained. See Detention of vulnerable applicants.

However, the detention of people with mental illness remains a major source of concern and is covered further in the section on Detention of Vulnerable Applicants. A case in 2019 confirmed that the Home Office need not introduce a process equivalent to Rule 35 for immigration detainees held in prisons[6] The Court of Appeal ruled in 2021 that this constituted an irrational failure on behalf of the Home Office.[7] and an action plan was published in 2022 indicating that the development of this was under way.[8]

There are no other published criteria which would prevent someone who had suffered torture or other extreme violence from being routed into the NSA procedure. The policies about vulnerable applicants, although they are unevenly applied, concern suitability for detention, not for a non-suspensive appeal.

Guidance to officers making a decision after the screening interview also advises that where a person through illness has a need for care and attention over and above destitution, they should be referred to a Local Authority for a needs assessment.[9] In practice, local authority support is difficult to obtain, and policies vary in different local authority areas.




[1] Home Office, Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund: List of Actions allocated funding, July 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2C5Yq9y.

[2] ICIBI, An inspection of the Home Office’s approach to the identification and safeguarding of vulnerable adults, January 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2NN8fOC.

[3] Home Office, Gender Issues in the Asylum Claim: process, 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2NPSqYr.

[4] Home Office, Asylum interviews, 28 June 2022, available at:  https://bit.ly/3Kt6tPt.

[5] The Civil Legal Aid (Immigration Interviews) (Exceptions) Regulations 2012, available at: https://bit.ly/3wryuEv.

[6] MR (Pakistan) and AO (Nigeria), EWHC 3567 (Admin), 20 December 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/39k30PM.

[7] MR (Pakistan) & Anor v Secretary of State for Justice & Ors [2021] EWCA Civ 541, 14 April 2021, available at: https://tinyurl.com/bddp8y9y.  

[8] HM Prisons and Probation Service, Action plan – A Response to: Thematic Report: The experience of immigration detainees in prisons, 13 October 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3gsbNs8.

[9] Home Office, Guidance: Asylum seekers with care needs, August 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2n6BzU7

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection