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Appeal an asylum decision alpha assessment report

Government Digital Service

February 4
11:46 2020

Appeal an Asylum Decision

From: Government Digital Service
Assessment date: 1 October 2019
Stage: Alpha
Result: Met
Service provider: Her Majestys Courts and Tribunal Service

Service description

The Appeal a Decision service is designed to replace the existing service and process for appellants appealing Home Office decisions for visa or residency applications. Our service forms part of the First-tier Tribunal Immigration & Asylum Chamber (IAC), which is being transformed as part of the wider HMCTS Reform programme.

Service users

Appellants in person

Appellants in person are people appealing against a Home Office decision, without qualified legal representation. They often receive help from informal supporters who are charity workers, friends and peers who sit by their side to help them through their appeal.

Tribunal Case Workers

Case workers who, with the approval of the Senior President of Tribunals, carry out functions of a judicial nature in order to move a case towards an outcome on behalf of the judges. HMCT Service Centre Administrators. Users performing administrative tasks to ensure the smooth facilitation of the appeal service cycle.

Judges

Judiciary users who will (if necessary) oversee a cases hearing and subsequently record their determination and decision in our new system.

Home Office

Users will be sent information on the appeal, be able to submit evidence and have the ability to make decisions on whether to withdraw their earlier decision (based on strength of submitted evidence from the appellant) or request a formal hearing of the case.

1. Understand user needs

Decision

The service met point 1 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • the team identified and engaged a broad cross section of different types of appellant and professional users
  • user needs have been well articulated, and the team has integrated multiple user perspectives into their resulting service design
  • in particular, the team has been effective at engaging a hard to recruit group of appellants, with a well thought out strategy of engaging the charity sector to provide referrals
  • the user research has been effective at identifying pain points in the current journey, and there are clear examples of how this has been used to shape the design of the new service, which appears to have substantially reduced barriers to users accessing the service
  • the research has been professionally structured: clear evidence of hypotheses to shape the research; and there has been a clear focus in identifying and prioritising the knottiest problems to solve in the user journey
  • the research has also been well managed (eg attention to ethical issues arising from researching a vulnerable user group)

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • broaden the range of appellant segments included in the research. While the user engagement has been sound for the discovery and alpha work to date, there is a need to test out whether the needs of other user segments are the same as those already included in the research - which they may not be. This poses a risk, and means it will be important to explore other user groups as the project moves to private beta. Specific user segments which need to be researched to identify user needs and journeys include:

  • people appealing for reasons other than asylum and human rights
  • high and medium capability appellants, and low capability appellants currently not engaged with charities
  • out of country appellants
  • people in need of digital assistance and with limited English (including people accessing the service via mobile)

  • in particular, there is a need to recruit appellants who are not engaged with support charities (ie to use different recruitment channels) as their needs and levels of support may well be different
  • private beta research with users who switch between represented and unrepresented appeals as they progress through their journey
  • we would also be keen to see some more exploration to show that the team understand the impact of the structure of the process on users. For example, do users feel OK about not sharing their reason for appealing in the first interaction? Do the time limits for responding to directions impact their ability to get support with the case?

2. Do ongoing user research

Decision

The service met point 2 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • there appears to be a mature recognition of the limitations of the research conducted to date, and the need to drill down further into needs of different segments as they move into the next stage of development
  • there appears to be well established involvement of the whole team in determining the hypotheses to be tested at the next stage of research
  • there is a forward plan for research in private beta, with attention to areas where further insight and user need has been identified (such as use of language support option, and assisted digital users, including how these interface with the call centre)
  • the team has done effective work with a group of Tribunal Case Workers (a tea party) to identify the questions they ask appellants, which is being used to frame questions that can be posed and tested with appellants as they develop their service prototype

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • develop the research programme to address the points identified in Point 1 above

3. Have a multidisciplinary team

Decision

The service met point 3 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • the service had a well-formed multidisciplinary team with all the relevant roles working effectively together
  • the team worked effectively with others working on related products within the wider service, with lessons from legal reps also informing the appellant in person service
  • the service worked in close proximity and with regular input from key roles, including Tribunal Case Workers and 3 Judges

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • responsibility for this service will transfer to DTS (Digital and Technology Services) around September 2020, it is essential that a fully formed team with all the relevant roles (including, but not limited to a product manager, developers, service design, user research and content design) is in place well in advance of that transition point so that there is effective knowledge transfer between both teams.

4. Use agile methods

Decision

The service met point 4 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • the team demonstrated effective use of the Scrum methodology, aided with appropriate ceremonies and tools

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • consider the purpose and approach to Governance. It needs to enable the creation of a quality service, and remove blockers, especially in dependencies of shared components as well as be proportionate

5. Iterate and improve frequently

Decision

The service met point 5 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • the team have tested and iterated not just the interface but the interactions between appellants and tribunal caseworkers and understand the effect the design is having on user behaviour
  • the team have iterated the journey based on their user research and worked with judiciary to establish where push back on the use of legal language is possible or not
  • the team have considered several different

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