Anger as Government leaflet tells deportees to put on Jamaican accent

Passengers from the HMT Empire Windrush are welcomed by RAF officials after theiri arrival in Britain in 1948.
Passengers from the HMT Empire Windrush are welcomed by RAF officials after theiri arrival in Britain in 1948.
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A Government guide for Jamaican nationals being deported or removed from the UK to Jamaica tells them to put on a local accent to avoid attracting “unwanted attention”.

“Try to be Jamaican,” it says. “Use local accents and dialects (overseas accents can attract unwanted attention).”

The Government apologised on Monday after admitting that some people, who lived in the UK for almost all their lives, have potentially been deported to the Caribbean “in error”.

“Coming home to Jamaica“, a leaflet published by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and developed by the British High Commission in Kingston, the Ministry of National Security and Jamaican charities was published in 2013.

READ MORE: Who are the Windrush generation?

It was last updated in 2015 and is given to all Jamaican nationals who are going to be deported or removed from the UK. “We hope that you find it useful as you prepare for your return to Jamaica and re-settle back on this beautiful, diverse island!” the Foreign Offices website says in the introduction.

“The idea that a person who has been living in the UK since childhood should try to “use local accents and dialect” to stay safe is as offensive as it is utterly nonsensical,” said the immigration barrister Colin Yeo, an expert on freedom of movement.

“Whoever put this together should be ashamed. This guide and the services it advertises are paid for out of the aid budget.

“The money would be better spent on helping people prove their cases in the UK or reducing the astronomical fees they have to pay to get the piece of paper proving their entitlement.”

READ MORE: Home Secretary apologises to Windrush generation

The guide also advises readers to get in touch with family living in Jamaica before they depart. It tells them they should take at least two months worth of medication because “it may take some time before you can be prescribed some new medication in Jamaica.”

The websites and phone numbers of some emergency shelters are listed.

Anyone who finds themselves experiencing mental health problems is advised to “develop supportive relationships where you can” and “develop a healthy lifestyle: eat well, manage your stress, get adequate sleep and exercise”

It warns that unemployment in Jamaica is high. “If you have friends or relatives in Jamaica, ask them if they know anybody looking for staff,” it says.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “This document has nothing to do with people from the Windrush generation, who are in the UK legally. As the Home Secretary has made clear today, the Home Office has set up a dedicated team to help people from that group to get the right paperwork to confirm their status in the UK.

“This particular document was intended to provide advice for people who have been in the UK illegally and are returning to Jamaica either voluntarily or through deportation.”