UK Immigration Officers Tasked With Channel Small Boat Crisis Given Mental Health Support

As the UK’s immigration system continues to face pressures from across the English channel, those tasked with patrolling the corridor have been provided with mental health workshops to boost resilience.

Resilience workshops

Spending data released last week shows that the Home Office hired ‘resilience practitioners’ after what the PCS union calls ‘trauma assessments.’ The Home Office has provided border officers with mental health workshops to help them manage the stress of dealing with the small boats crisis.

Spending data released by the Home Office shows it hired mental health professionals referred to as “resilience practitioners” for UK Border Force staff dealing with small boats.

The sessions were held this spring with border officers in Folkestone, Kent, where asylum seekers traveling on small boats often land.

In social media posts seen by the Guardian newspaper, one of the resilience practitioners described the officers as dealing with a “humanitarian crisis.” Another said on their website that their sessions often involved “positive psychology and cognitive behavioral theory.”

What does the union say about the workshops?

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), representing government workers, said the workshops were offered after trauma assessments were carried out on staff by fellow trained officers. The assessment is offered to those involved in potentially traumatic critical incidents.

Last October, when an immigration center in Dover was petrol bombed, the PCS said all staff involved in the incident were offered the assessment.

The Home Office has spent £7,696 on the workshops for staff “involved in the small boats activity” so far this year.

The PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka, said,

“While we welcome workshops to support our members in the Border Force, we would prefer the government stopped putting our members in this position in the first place. Rather than the prime minister continuing to promote his unpopular, immoral, and failing illegal migration bill, he should instead support our call for safe passage – a humane solution to the dangerous and uncontrolled situation in the Channel.”

A continuing issue

Last month, the UK Government passed its illegal migration bill, allowing the Home Office to send asylum seekers who arrive on small boats to Rwanda.

Earlier this month, the government launched its “small boats week” to coincide with its use of the Bibby Stockholm barge to house asylum seekers. By the end of that week, all those living on the Bibby Stockholm were evacuated after Legionella was found onboard.

Six asylum seekers drowned the next day after their small boat capsized during an attempted Channel crossing. Two British ships were involved in the search and rescue operation.

Referring to the support being provided to its border patrol offers, a Home Office spokesperson said,

“We take staff welfare extremely seriously and are committed to supporting our staff who work in incredibly challenging environments. We are committed to delivering the best value for money for the British taxpayer, and all spending is carefully scrutinized to make sure that every pound of taxpayers’ money is spent in the most effective way.”


What are your thoughts on the support being provided by the Home Office to immigration officials? Let us know in the comments, 

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