Help for refugees and asylum seekers to understand their rights
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Staying safe

Welsh communities may be quite different to where you used to live. The information on this page is provided to help you to stay safe whilst you are living in Wales. The information below applies to refugees and asylum seekers at any stage of their stay in Wales.

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Title
Emergencies
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If you need urgent help because of a crime, fire or injury you should call 999. Only call this number if it is an emergency. If you do not speak or understand English, speak in your own language. The call operator will arrange an interpreter during the call. It is important you say where you are, including the address and post code. 

999 is the number of the ‘Emergency Services’. This means the Police, Fire Service, Ambulance Service and Coastguard. All telephone calls to 999 are free in the UK. 

If you do not feel confident speaking English yet just say the word ‘Ambulance’ to the operator and say what your preferred language is. The operator will try to connect you to an interpreter.

You should call for an Ambulance if someone is unconscious, having extreme difficulty breathing or they are bleeding. If it is not an emergency, you can get healthcare advice from other places. For more information, go to the ‘Health and Well-being’ section of this website. Do not go to the ‘Accident and Emergency’ department of your local hospital if it is not an emergency.

You should call for the Fire Service when there is a fire in the home or somewhere else. Do not try to put out the fire yourself. You should also call the fire service if you know about a leak or spillage of hazardous chemicals. 

It is important to know that you should feel safe when contacting the police in Wales. We understand that in some cases police in other countries may use violence or aggressive behaviour but this is not the case in the Wales or the United Kingdom. You should feel safe and confident to call police if you are in danger, the victim of a crime or have suffered abuse from someone.

You should call for the Police if you see that a crime is in progress or if you have seen a crime. 999 should also be used if you see a person, vehicle, unattended package or bag which you think might be a threat. Move away and call 999 to report this. You can report anything which you think may be related to terrorism by calling the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800789321.

If you need to report something to the Police but it is not an emergency, you can call 101 instead.

You should call for the Coastguard when a person has been swept out to sea or where there is a boating accident out at sea.

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Hate crime and discrimination
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A ‘Hate Crime’ can be any crime which is committed against someone because of part of their identity. This includes a person's disability, gender identity, race, religion or their sexual orientation. The crime could include assault, robbery, damage to property, threatening behaviour or another type of crime. If you think you are the victim of a hate crime, you should report this to the Police. You have the right to live your life without abuse and violence. Most refugees and asylum seekers have not experienced hate crime but we support anyone that has. Police are trained to deal with hate crime with sensitivity. You can be confident that you will be treated fairly if you report this type of crime.

If you do not want to talk to the Police directly, you can report hate crime to Victim Support Cymru. The Welsh Government funds Victim Support Cymru to support victims of hate crime. You can find more information about this service on the Victim Support website.

It is important to know that you should feel safe when contacting the police in Wales. We understand that in some cases police in other countries may use violence or aggressive behaviour but this is not the case in the Wales or the United Kingdom. You should feel safe and confident to call police if you are in danger, the victim of a crime or have suffered abuse from someone.

‘Discrimination’ happens when people are treated differently because of part of their identity. This can be due to their age, pregnancy, disability, gender, marriage status, race, religion or belief or sexual orientation. It is different from a hate crime because a crime has not been committed. If you think this has happened to you, you can discuss it with the ‘Equality Advisory and Support Service’ (EASS). You may also be able to find help from a local refugee and asylum seeker support organisation.

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Keeping women and girls safe
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Domestic abuse

‘Domestic Abuse’ is the use of control by one person over another in an intimate or close family relationship. The abuse can be sexual, physical, emotional or psychological. Abuse is a pattern of behaviour but it can be difficult to identify. This is unfortunately very common in all communities.

It is very important to understand that domestic violence of any kind is illegal in Wales. If you are found guilty of violent or threatening behaviour towards your partner, wife or husband you could face a prison sentence. Support is available for both male and female victims. Groups like BAWSO, Welsh Women’s Aid, Rainbow and Victim Support may be able to help and offer advice.

Sexual violence

‘Sexual Violence’ is any sexual act or activity which is unwanted and which has not been consented (agreed) to. Sexual violence can affect anyone, at any stage of their lives. Sexual violence can include rape, female genital mutilation, trafficking, incest, or sexual harassment. Police in Wales have special officers who are trained to deal sensitively with Sexual Violence survivors.

Forced marriage

‘Forced Marriage’ is a marriage that takes place without the full and free agreement of both individuals. If you enter into a marriage because you have been threatened or abused this is a forced marriage. Forced marriages are illegal in the UK and can be punished by a prison sentence for anyone threatening you into this type of marriage. If you think you might be forced into a marriage you can call the Forced Marriage Unit Helpline on 02070080151 or call 999 if you are in immediate danger.

Female genital mutilation

‘Female Genital Mutilation’ (FGM) is the partial or total remove of external female genitalia for reasons which are not medical. It is illegal in the UK and anyone allowing this to happen can be punished with a prison sentence. FGM is not set out in any religious text and can lead to poor health outcomes for women and girls who survive. If you think you might be forced into FGM you can call the NSPCC FGM helpline on 08000283550 or call 999 if you are in immediate danger.

You can get help and support with any of these issues at the Live Fear Free website. You can talk directly with someone by phone or via online chat 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

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Slavery and exploitation
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People who have been refused asylum are at particular risk of exploitation and slavery. We aim to make Wales hostile to slavery and exploitation. Slavery includes being exploited for sex, labour, criminality, human organs or tissue or because you are a child. Slavery also includes ‘human trafficking’ when someone is moved to be exploited.

You can report slavery through the modern slavery helpline by calling 08000121700. You can also seek help through Bawso by calling 08007318147. More information is on the Live Fear Free website. Call 999 if you are in immediate danger.

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Children’s rights
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The Welsh Government is a strong supporter of the rights of children and young people. Children have specific rights in Wales, which come from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Children have a right to have an opinion on decisions which affect them. Refugee children have a right to access the same opportunities as other children in Wales. Children who are separated from their parents also have the right to support to be reunited. Governments must consider the best interests of children when making decisions.

The Children’s Commissioner for Wales looks at decisions made by public bodies in Wales to see how they affect children’s rights. The Commissioner supports children to learn more about their rights. The Commissioner will also help those who think they have been treated unfairly. You can find out more about the Commissioner’s work on their website.

If you are a young person who needs help, support or advice, there are lots of services available. Childline can help by providing you with advice about issues which may be affecting your mental health. You can call Childline for free on 08001111send them an email or talk to an online counsellor at their website.

The Welsh Government also fund the ‘Meic’ service to provide young people with information or advice if they need someone to talk to. You can call Meic for free on 08088023456, text them on 84001or talk online at their website.

TGP Cymru also run a project to support young asylum seekers and refugees up to the age of 25 years. This includes support from someone who understands the asylum system well. It also offers opportunities to meet other young asylum seekers and refugees, and volunteering. You can find more details about this project at the TGP Cymru website.

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Keeping children and adults safe from abuse
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Children and adults have a right to be safe from abuse and harm. Abuse includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and financial abuse. Abuse also includes neglect, where someone is not cared for in the way that they should be. Children and adults can be abused or neglected and local authorities have a duty to protect them from harm. You can find out more about abuse, neglect and safety on the Childline website.

If you think someone is at immediate risk of harm you should phone the Police on 999

If you are worried that someone is being abused or is at risk of being abused you can call the Police on 101. You can also telephone the local authority’s Social Services department where you live. Information about how to contact your local authority is included on the Your Local Area page.

If someone else thinks that you or someone in your family is at risk of being abused or harmed they can report it to the Police or Social Services. If this happens someone from Social Services will speak to you or someone in your family to find out if anyone is at risk of abuse. Social Services will use the information they gather to make a decision about how best to help to prevent or stop abuse from happening.

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Anti-social behaviour
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‘Anti-Social behaviour’ is bad behaviour which disrupts the local neighbourhood and upsets people who live in that area. This could be loud noises, threatening or abusive behaviour, or allowing your property to be used for criminal activity.

You have the right to enjoy your home without the unreasonable disturbance of others. Neighbours who rent their home can be evicted if they are found to have caused you nuisance and do not stop their behaviour when asked to do so. You can complain to the neighbour’s landlord who is required to take appropriate action. Your Local Authority’s Environmental Health section may be able to help. You should remember that this information also applies to you. You should think about how your behaviour affects your neighbours.

You should never try to solve these kinds of issues through violence. You could be found to have acted illegally or anti-socially if you do. Carrying weapons, such as knives or guns, is illegal in the United Kingdom. If you are found in possession of weapons like this in public you could be arrested. You must not carry these weapons for personal protection, even if you are afraid.

Lots of substances are known as either ‘legal’ or ‘illegal’ drugs in the United Kingdom. Legal drugs are available in shops or from your GP. Illegal drugs include substances like Khat and Cannabis. Possessing, supplying or producing illegal drugs can lead to criminal punishment. More information about which drugs are illegal can be found on the UK Government website. It is illegal to drive a vehicle under the influence of illegal drugs.