FOI release

UKBA’s Human Provenance Pilot Project

We have received a request under the Freedom of Information Act, 2000, for the following information about UKBA’s Human Provenance Pilot Project…

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We have received a request under the Freedom of Information Act, 2000, for the following information about UKBA’s Human Provenance Pilot Project:

  1. In October 2009 UKBA temporarily stopped the ‘nationality testing pilot’ which is one component of this project. Requests to forward the comments from internal and external stakeholders which led to the suspension of this component.

  2. Please forward technical information about this component (i.e. what is the test? How is it conducted? How are results analyzed?) Please confirm its current status? Has nationality testing, as part of the HPPP, been resumed?
     
  3. How this test is conducted, how many tests have been conducted, the findings of these tests, and how UKBA has resolved the issue of informed consent.
     
  4. Please confirm that it is still the case that results from HPPP tests are not the sole basis on which asylum and immigration decisions are or will be reached?
     
  5. In December 2009 The Human Genetics Commission raised a series of objections to HPPP regarding issues of ethics and informed consent raised by individual elements of the project and with respect to the entire HPP Project. Please forward the relevant documents and/or correspondence with the Commission that answer their concerns.
     
  6. The Human Genetics Commission raised a number of technical issues with regard to the use of: (a) relationship testing, (b) nationality testing, (c) isotope testing, and (d) DNA ancestry testing. Please forward all relevant documents, including relevant replies to the Commission, which address the concerns raised by the Commission.
     
  7. In light of the concerns of The Human Genetics Commission and other stakeholders, what is the current status of HPPP? What, if any plans exist, to resume HPPP?

 

In response to these queries we released the following information on 22 September 2010

  1. Having addressed stakeholders concerns, the pilot was resumed on 20th November 2009. The resumption formed part of a 3 month live testing period. During this period the country of origin results were not used in reaching decisions on live cases and the results were anonymised. The testing element of the pilot concluded at the end of March 2010.

  2. The testing process conducted by UKBA is contained within a published instruction. The link to which is below:

http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/asylumprocessguidance/specialcases

The science which formed the basis of the above testing has been documented in peer reviewed scientific papers, which are in the public domain.
 
Nationality testing was a pilot which came to an end on the 31st March 2010. An evaluation of the outcome of that pilot is not due to be completed until late autumn of this year.

  1. Familial DNA testing continued throughout the period of the pilot as it is established science, well understood and not as contentious. The pilot came to an end in March and is currently being evaluated.

Please see section 4 of the Family Relationship Testing (DNA) guidance contained in the link above with regard to informed consent.

  1. Results of tests carried out under the HPP pilot were not used in the live asylum case decision making process.

The results from the Familial DNA testing were used in part to inform how UKBA would proceed in cases where doubts had been raised regarding the claimed relationships between an adult and a child.

  1. The Human Genetics Commission (HGC) invited officials from the UKBA HPP pilot to a meeting on 10th February 2010 to discuss the issues HGC had previously raised with UKBA regarding the HPP pilot.

The meeting with HGC was positive and UKBA officials were able to address their concerns. It would be more appropriate for you to approach HGC direct to obtain their views on how UKBA were able to address their concerns.

  1. Please see the UKBA response to your question on HGC in question 5 above. If you are not satisfied with the response to this question (and the response you receive from HGC), can you please provide UKBA with specific details of the “technical issues” you are asking about.

  2. The HPP was a pilot. An evaluation of the outcome of that pilot is not due to be completed until late autumn of this year. Once the evaluation has been completed, the findings will be in the public domain with the usual caveats relating to personal information, contractual requirements and our obligations under the Data Protection Act.

Once the evaluation has been concluded, UKBA will make an informed decision regarding the future use of HP testing.