UK Home Office
https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/country-policy-and-information-notes
 
Source description last updated: 18 November 2016
 
In brief:
The Country Policy and Information Team is part of UK Visas and Immigration, which is the UK Home Office’s unit for decisions in asylum and human rights applications, and publishes country information and protection guidance.
 
Coverage on ecoi.net:

Country Information and Guidance.
Covered weekly on ecoi.net, for countries of priorities A-E.
 
Mission/Mandate/Objectives:

“The Home Office’s Country Policy and Information Team (CPIT) undertakes COI research and provides guidance/policy advice for officials involved in the asylum decision making process.”  
 
CPIT “[p]rovides information on the 20-30 countries that generate the most asylum claims in the UK. However, CPIT may also produce COI on other countries where there is a specific operational need, such as whether a particular country is designated under our Non-Suspensive Appeals process (i.e. for ‘safe’ countries where applicants’ claims may only have a right of appeal outside of the UK) or claims processed through the UK’s detained fast track process.”(European Commission, European Migration Network: Ad-hoc query on searching of COI for asylum procedures, 22 September 2014, p. 14)
 
“Country information and guidance reports are used by UK Visas and Immigrations officials to make decisions in asylum and human rights applications. The reports also give information on asylum seekers’ countries of origin.” (UK Home Office website: Visas and immigration operational guidance – collection - Country information and guidance, undated)
 
Funding:
£ 1.8 bn total gross budget for immigration and borders operations of the UK Home Office.
For further details on a reform of the UK border and immigration system see:
National Audit Office: Reforming the UK border and immigration system, 22 July 2014
http://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Reforming-the-UK-border-and-immigration-system-summary.pdf
 
Scope of reporting:

Geographic focus: Countries which generate most asylum applications to the UK (currently 34 countries).
Thematic focus: Human rights, humanitarian and security situation in countries of origin of asylum seekers.
 
Methodology:

“Re-structuring at the Home Office has seen the merger of the Country of Origin Information Service (COIS), who were responsible for producing country information reports, and the Country Specific Litigation Team (CSLT) who were responsible for Operational Guidance Notes, to create the Country Policy and Information Team (CPIT).” (Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration and Independent Monitor for Entry Clearance Refusals without the Right of Appeal: Annual Report 2013-14, December 2014, p. 18)
 
“CPIT has introduced a new product, named a Country Information and Guidance (CIG) report which covers the most common issues / claims arising in UK casework, and provides both guidance on how to handle / decide the claims and COI. [...]
CIG reports will be updated on a needs basis, depending on the events in the country, changes in caselaw and requirements of decisions makers.” (European Commission, European Migration Network: Ad-hoc query on searching of COI for asylum procedures, 22 September 2014, p. 14)
 
“CIG renamed Country Policy and Information Note in response to the Upper Tribunal’s observations of the potential confusion arising between the courts’ and Home Office’s use of the term 'country guidance'.” (UK Home Office: Country Policy and Information Note Eritrea: National Service and Illegal Exit, October 2016, p. 95)
 
“Home Office COI reports are usually no more than 18 months old, though there are exceptions.” (ECRE – European Council on Refugees and Exile, etal.: Actors of Protection and the Application of the Internal Protection Alternative – National Report United Kingdom, 2014, p. 33)
 
“The Independent Advisory Group on Country Information (IAGCI) is part of the Office of the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration. Its main purpose is to review the content of all Country of Origin Information produced by the UK Home Office to help ensure that it is as accurate, balanced, impartial and up to date as possible.
 
The IAGCI reviews country of origin information products of the UK Home Office. The structure of these products have recently been revised, moving from separate COI Reports and Operational Guidance Notes (OGNs) to a single Country Information and Guidance (CIG) report. These products are generated on an ongoing basis for the top 20 asylum intake countries. CIG Reports commonly address a specific type of common asylum claim(s). They are compiled from material produced by a range of recognised external information sources (news sources, academic literature, country guidance decisions, independent research reports, fact finding reports from UK government or from other governments, etc.). These documents also contain Home Office policy on the recommended position to be taken with respect to various types of claims, based on the available and accepted country information.” (Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration website: Commissioning reviews – Syria Sept. 2015, undated)
 
A review commissioned by the IAGCI “aims to assess the Country Information in terms of its accuracy and balance, with the objective of ensuring that it offers an up-to-date and comprehensive summary of the most relevant available source material […], and relating to it the key issues raised in asylum claims […]. It does so by checking the citations in the report as well as the original documents from which they are drawn, by evaluating their continued relevance, and by identifying more recent, alternative, readily available sources that will usefully supplement the substantive content of the report.” (Morel, Michéle (Molieu ltd.): Review of the UK Home Office Country Information and Guidance – China: Christians (13 June 2014), April 2015, p. 3)
 
IAGCI’s reviews of Country Information and Guidance Reports (and the Home Office’s responses to them) can be accessed at: http://icinspector.independent.gov.uk/2015/06/09/2015-reviews-of-country-guidence-reports/.
 
Language(s) of publications:

English
 
Further reading:
Website of Independent Chief Inspector of Border and Migration: Independent Advisory Group on Country Information, undated
http://icinspector.independent.gov.uk/country-information-reviews/
 
From 2003 to 2005 the British NGO Immigration Advisory Service (IAS) (http://www.iasuk.org/) has undertaken four surveys on the UK Home Office’s Country Reports. The reports were checked for their accuracy, selectivity and objectivity (see IAS Website, http://www.iasuk.org/, accessed on 29 August 2008). Results of this reviewing process are available at http://www.iasuk.org/media/16854/cipu_analysis_report_2003.pdf and http://www.iasuk.org/media/16857/analysis_april_2004-full_pdf.pdf (accessed on 5 March 2010)
 
In reaction to the above mentioned discourse about the Home Office’s Country Reports the Advisory Panel on Country Information (APCI), an independent body under the Nationality Asylum and Immigration Act 2002 was established. The function of the Advisory Panel is to review and provide advice about the country of origin information material produced by the Home Office, to help ensure that it is as accurate, balanced, impartial, up to date and user-friendly as possible. The members of the Advisory Panel are individuals and organisations operating in the country information and/or the refugee fields (APCI Website, http://www.apci.org.uk/, accessed on 29 August 2008).
 
In 2008, the APCI was disbanded and its functions subsumed under the Office of the Chief Inspector of the UKBA, who in March 2009 established the Independent Advisory Group on Country Information (IAGCI) to assist him with monitoring the UKBA Country of Origin Information Service (COIS) reports.
In March 2010, IAS published an analysis of the APCI's work and effects, available at: http://www.iasuk.org/media/365919/the_apci_legacy.pdf (accessed on 5 March 2010)
 
All documents available on ecoi.net from this source: http://www.ecoi.net/en/source/9
All links accessed 23 September 2015 (except where otherwise noted).
 
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