Wednesday, June 23, 2004

No Bias Here!

Uh oh... the Beeb's headline is 'Watchdog criticises asylum decisions', that can't be good:

Immigration authorities are making faster decisions on asylum cases - but need to improve how many they get right, says the government's spending watchdog.

The National Audit Office says £200m could have been saved if ministers invested in case work rather than on removing failed asylum seekers.

It says mistakes meant more people appealed - increasing the costs....

But the NAO said case workers making decisions "receive less training than they should", sometimes use "flawed tests of credibility" and occasionally make basic errors of fact.

The quality of some country reports - basic information about home nation conditions - was also flawed.

These factors were sometimes complicated by applicants without documentation or inconsistencies in their accounts.

This meant too many cases were unnecessarily going to an appeal - leading to higher costs within the system and in supporting the applicant waiting for a final decision, said the NAO.

All good sob sister stuff, of course. But what's this ? The Telegraph also covers the story, except its take is a little different.

The Home Office has been forced to reinstate minimum academic standards for asylum case workers after they were dropped to attract more ethnic minority applicants.

It found that some executive officer recruits - who no longer needed to obtain two A-levels and five GCSEs, including English - could not do the job properly.

The academic requirements were abolished in Nov 2000 and replaced by a "competency-based approach and psychometric tests to select candidates". The aim was to meet the Home Office's "overall recruitment needs and to broaden the diversity of applicants".

But a report on asylum published today by the National Audit Office (NAO) said "some of the new case workers were less able to deliver properly-considered decisions on complex cases".

As a result, the minimum academic standards for recruits were restored in February this year. The Home Office was set a target of recruiting at least from ethnic minorities this year.

But, don't think the Beeb downplays the role supposed 'affirmative action' played in this fiasco - nope, it just doesn't mention it at all. There are oblique hints to problems with training and the like, but nowhere is the central problem addressed.

This is hardly a question of tone or point-of-view. The Beeb is just flat out lying. It would be bad enough if it didn't cover the report, but what it does is far worse. It claims to cover it, while censoring those parts that do not serve it's own agenda. The effect is to misrepresent what the report actually said. When are we going to have quotas for honest reporters at the Beeb ?

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