The TortureID pilot project was the organisation’s first piece of work and took place between May 2019 and January 2021 (extended due to COVID-19 and difficulties conducting in-person assessments safely) in West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester. The aim of the pilot project was to offer specialist health assessments to 30 survivors of international human rights abuses and to produce concise medical reports in a short timescale to aid their rehabilitation. A further aim was to offer training to GPs and health teams on identifying, assessing and documenting survivors of international human rights abuses.
To be accepted into the TortureID pilot project the referral had to come from one of the four solicitors’ organisations with Legal Aid Agency contracts in Immigration invited to participate. The refugee had to have alleged that they had been tortured or severely ill-treated, to have applied for asylum in the UK and to be waiting for a decision from the Home Office (UK Visas and Immigration – UKVI).
The specialist health assessments took place in a confidential room in the solicitors’ offices, were limited to 2 hours and used qualified face to face interpreters where needed. The doctor asked the survivors about their history of ill-treatment, conducted a targeted physical examination to identify any physical evidence of ill-treatment and conducted a mental state examination to identify any psychological evidence of ill-treatment.
The medical reports produced by the doctor highlighted any safeguarding issues, detailed their clinical findings and their clinical recommendations. The assessments and reports were conducted in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol given the resources available. The clinician gave their clinical impression on the consistency between the physical and/or psychological evidence they identified and the survivors’ history of ill-treatment.
During the pilot project 38 survivors had specialist health assessments and received medical reports.
TortureID also delivered training to 2 GP practices where a large proportion of their patients were refugees.
The pilot project was evaluated and a report produced in June 2021. The evaluation focused on the impact the TortureID assessments and reports had on the survivors, the outcome of their asylum claims and their ability to access appropriate health and social care services.
We are very pleased to share our pilot project evaluation report findings. The feedback we have received so far has been very supportive.