We have received a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for the following:
Is there any guidance for border/immigration/airport officials on how to treat women wearing clothing that covers their face? If so, please could I see a copy?
We released the following information on 01 July 2010:
Whilst UKBA have issued written guidance previously, advising officers on how to treat women wearing clothing that covers their face it no longer hold a copy of this instruction. The procedure to be followed is taught during induction training as described below:
It is a requirement that Border Force Officers always establish the nationality and identity of all passengers. Officers are requested that passengers wearing veils or other face coverings ask to remove the covering in order that they may be identified as the rightful holder of their passport or travel document.
The UK Border Agency recognises that individual sensitivities must be taken into consideration, therefore if a passenger is uncomfortable removing their face covering in public they are escorted to a private room away from the border checkpoint and asked to uncover their face there. Female passengers, who are uncomfortable removing a face covering in public and/or in the presence of males, are checked in private by a female officer.
Detention Services do hold written guidance on how they process detainees wearing veils and face coverings, which is provided below:-
“Some female visitors, particularly those of the Muslim faith, will wear veils or other face coverings for religious reasons. They must not be made to uncover their faces or hair in public or in front of a man as this could cause serious offence and distress. When required for security or identification purposes, the removal of the veil or face covering must be done in private with only female staff present.
Following the removal of headwear, the person must be given the opportunity to use a mirror, and to have privacy and time to put it back on.”