UNISON have established that the ‘CONNECT’ tool is being used by Council social work staff in Edinburgh and Glasgow when faced with requests for assistance by those in ‘NRPF’ situations (see the guide).
This purchased privately provided computer programme enables information sharing between local authorities and Home Office immigration agencies.
On the possibly helpful side it can establish an individual’s official immigration status, which can identify what help might be available and this is said to be the reason it is being used.
However on the bad side it can result in identification and locating of individuals and families who are subsequently picked up and deported.
We understand this has not happened in Scotland yet but it certainly has in England. Refugee organisations have condemned such practices and due to data information legality concerns we would urge resistance to the introduction and use of CONNECT.
COSLA are currently working on new Scottish Guidance for local authorities faced with referrals under the UK government’s NRPF policy (itself designed to enhance the ‘hostile environment’ for those deemed as unwanted migrants to the UK).
UNISON hope to input to this exercise and ensure that the guidance reflects a different and welcoming attitude to asylum seekers in Scotland.’