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  • Focus on the quality of asylum legal advice in the UK

    29 August 2014

    This week BID was interviewed for research currently being conducted into the quality of legal advice for asylum seekers, with reference to the position of immigration detainees.  The research has been commissioned by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority  (SRA), Legal Ombudsman (LeO) and Unbound Philanthropy , and  is being conducted by Asylum Research Consultancy  (ARC), MigrationWork  CIC, and Refugee Action .

    The research will map the legal services market for asylum seekers, and identify

    • Barriers to effective use of legal services for asylum seekers, their access to redress, and whether these barriers restrict their access to justice
    • What constitutes good and poor practice
    • A definition of quality for asylum legal work 

    We were pleased to be able to share data from BID’s series of 11 legal advice surveys, including over 1500 separate interviews with immigration detainees held in IRCs and prisons over the last four years.  We were able to comment on barriers to accessing immigration advice for those people with a protection claim that are held in IRCs, and the benefits and limitations of the legal surgery model and Legal Aid Agency exclusive contracts for this work. We were also able to highlight the severe limitations on access to immigration advice for detainees held I the prison estate, including those making protection claims.

    'Summary: Access to immigration legal advice for immigration detainees across the UK detention estate (Surveys 1-8)',  July 2014 can be downloaded from the very bottom of the right hand column of this page.

    A full report on the findings of of these surveys and a further three carried out with detainees held in prisons is currently in preparation for publication by BID in autumn 2014. 

    We were also able to share the findings of earlier research with similar objectives carried out by one of BID’s Research & Policy Managers while working at the Information Centre about Asylum & Refugees (ICAR), and commissioned by Refugee & Migrant Justice (both organisations have since closed down).  The Cost of Quality research, carried out between 2009-10, worked with legal practitioners, refugees, and various agencies to examine the effect of fixed fees for legal aid work on the quality of advice provided to asylum seekers.  The project developed a normative quality framework, with indicators and proxies for good quality asylum work, and a file review scoring system based on these factors. 

    Reports from this research can be downloaded from the very bottom of the right hand column of this page 

    Adeline Trude & Julie Gibbs, (2010), ‘Review of quality issues in legal advice: measuring and costing quality in asylum work’, ICAR and RMJ.

    Adeline Trude & Julie Gibbs, (2010), ‘Cost of Quality Legal Advice: Refugee Interviews’, ICAR and RMJ.

    Adeline Trude, (2009), 'Cost of Quality Legal Advice: Literature Review’, ICAR. 


  • Only 2 convictions for non-cooperation with the Home Office re-documentation process during 2013, BID FOI request reveals

    29 August 2014

    The Asylum & Immigration (Treatment of Claimants etc.) Act 2004 introduced criminal penalties for individuals who fail to cooperate with attempts to obtain travel documents to facilitate their removal from the UK.  

    The Travel Document Project has been obtaining data on the number of criminal prosecutions and convictions under Section 35 of the Asylum & Immigration (Treatment of Claimants etc.) Act 2004 through a series of FOI requests.  

    The response from the Ministry of Justice to BID's most recent request shows that from January 1st 2013 to December 31 2013, four people were proceeded against and two were found guilty.  

    The number of criminal prosecutions and convictions under s35 spanning the entire period since the Act came into force on 22 September 2004, can be found in the table below:

    Defendants proceeded against at magistrates' courts and found guilty at all courts offences under Section 35 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc) Act 2004 , England and Wales (1), 2004 to 20013

     

    Outcome

    2004

    2005

    2006

    2007

    2008

    2009

    2010

    2011

    2012

    2013

    Proceeded against

    0

    8

    13

    12

    33

    11

    8

    1

    8

    4

    Found guilty

    0

    4

    7

    9

    25

    7

    8

    0

    6

    2

     

  • BID's research into delays in the provision of Section 4 bail accommodation by the Home Office

    6 August 2014

     A suitable bail address is an essential requirement for immigration detainees applying to the First-tier Tribunal for release on bail.  Any detainee, whether or not they have made an asylum claim, is free to apply to the Home Office for a bail address under Section 4(1)(c) of the Immigration & Asylum Act 1999 if they have no address to go to on release with family or friends. Without a bail address detainees cannot normally lodge an application for release on bail and must simply wait in detention until the Home Office grants them a bail address.  Yet too many detainees struggle for weeks or months to obtain a Section 4 bail address from the Home Office, especially those with a criminal conviction. 

    Just a few years ago it was unusual for a detainee to wait more than a week or two for a Section 4 bail address from the UK Border Agency.  Now, delays of weeks, months, or more than one year for a Section 4 bail address are not uncommon. BID believes this level and prevalence of delay can never be acceptable, and renders the bail process meaningless both as an independent safeguard and as an alternative to detention. 

    BID became so concerned by the increasingly lengthy delays in provision by the Home Office of Section 4 bail accommodation that in January 2014 we embarked on research  to quantify the length and prevalence of such delays in the processing, decision-making, and allocation of Section 4 (1)(c) bail accommodation.  

  • BID publishes briefing on legal aid 'Residence Test'

    1 July 2014

    Today, 1st July, the House of Commons Delegated Legislation Committee will debate the legal aid 'residence test.' Last week, BID sent a briefing to committee members higlighting the very damaging effect which the proposed residence test would have on immigration detainees - download the briefing here

    The residence test would prevent ex-detainees from accessing legal aid to bring civil claims seeking compensation for unlawful detention. Detainees would also not be able to access legal aid to challenge abuse suffered in detention, if the residence test is introduced. 

  • Death of a detainee in HMP The Verne, Dorset

    11 June 2014

    On 4th June, a man detained under Immigration Act powers in a Dorset prison was found dead in his cell. The Independent reports that: 'Sources said the prison authorities “strongly” believed that he died of natural causes, but Dorset Police would only say his death had been “sudden” and that the matter had now been referred to the coroner.'

     

    The Independent goes on to quote BID's Pierre Makhlouf: 'Placing immigration detainees under prison conditions such as at HMP The Verne is inappropriate and against international guidelines...

  • BID responds to Justice Committee Inquiry on legal aid cuts

    16 May 2014

    On 30th April, BID responded to an inquiry from parliament's Justice Committee on the impact of the April 2013 legal aid cuts. The Justice Committee published our evidence this week. Download our response here .  

  • BID publishes briefing on Criminal Justice & Courts Bill

    13 March 2014

    On 13th March, BID produced a briefing for MPs on the public bill committee considering the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. You can download this briefing here.  

  • 'Denial of justice: the hidden use of prisons for immigration detention'

    23 January 2014

    On January 21st BID held its AGM on the topic 'Denial of justice: the hidden use of prisons for immigration detention'.  Thanks to all our powerful speakers including Michael Fordham QC (Blackstone Chambers & Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law ), Colin Carroll of HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Henry (a former client of BID), Sarah Teather MP, and Hamish Arnott (partner at Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, a specialist human rights practice)

     

    Download the presentation given by Hamish Arnott, Bhatt Murphy  'Challenging detention in prisons of immigration detainees', from the bottom of the right hand column on this page. 

     

    Download BID's briefing  'Detention under immigration powers in UK prisons: severe restrictions on access to justice', September 24th 2013, from the bottom of the right hand column on this page.

     

    Link to Storify BID AGM 2014 from @almondmilk 

     

     

     

  • Detained casework - the role of Capita Business Services

    12 November 2013

    BID's legal casework now indicates that staff employed by Capita Business Services have ‘ownership’ of a cohort of detained cases.   BID clients have received letters to that effect signed by ‘Capita Detained Casework Team, on behalf of the Home Office’, based at the Home Office National Removals Centre at Solihull.

     

    The work currently being carried out by Capita Business Services, under contract to the Home Office, on the migrant refusal pool has been outlined elsewhere.  We were naturally curious to find out precisely what work Capita employees were doing on dtained cases, and what decision making powers they had been granted.  

     

    We have now been told by the Home Office that Capita Business Services staff deal with the more routine and non-urgent work.  They are not Executive Officer grade but rather Administrative Officer grade in relation to their decision-making powers.  

     

    Members of the Capita Detained Casework Team do not respond to pre-action letters or any aspect of a detained case once removal directions have been served.  They do not work on deportation matters, and “make no recommendations in any regard in relation to substantive cases”.

     

    The table below gives some idea of the scope and nature of the current involvement of Capita staff in detained casework on behalf of the Home Office

     

    Seeking authority to maintain detention (detention reviews, refusals of requests for release on Temporary Admission, CIO bail, or otherwise).

     

    Drafting of bail summaries following an application for FTT bail

     

    Preparation of removal directions. 

    Capita staff prepare the administrative functions of the case but don’t make the decision.  They don’t make decisions to detain, they do the work necessary prior to the case coming to the detained caseowner.

     

    They provide advice to the SSHD who considers that advice with access to the full file.  Capita then communicate the decision to the individual.

     

    Submission of applications for an emergency travel document (ETD) through a document liaison officer (DLO)

    Capita staff only process cases where removal on EU letter is possible.  This may change in the future.

     

    Criminal Casework

     

    Capita staff don’t work on the cases of ‘criteria criminals’ (someone with a custodial sentence of 12 months or more).  But they would work on cases where the detainee has a conviction and a custodial sentence of less than one year or some other disposal such as a parking ticket.

    Separated family casework

     

    Capita staff must refer to Assistant Director level after a review by civil servants and with reference to the Office of the Children’s Champion.  They apparently deal with “straightforward” cases only. 

    Rule 35 reviews

     

    Capita staff work on these but their work must be signed off by a civil servant.

    Recording of data on CID and other Home Office databases.

    Capital staff have full access to CID, with training and clearances. 

     

     

  • Bail for Immigration Detainees intervenes in unlawful detention case

    1 November 2013 Press Statement

    BID has been granted permission to intervene before the Court of Appeal in the case of David Francis (C4/2013/2215B)(on appeal from the High Court of Justice, His Honour Judge McKenna [2013] EWHC 2115 (Admin).

    On 17 July 2013 the High Court found that although his continued detention had become unlawful and he had been unlawfully detained for 15 months, there could be no claim for damages as Mr Francis was detained under Schedule 2 para 2(1) Immigration Act 1971 (detention following a court recommendation for deportation).  Mr Francis is appealing to the Court of Appeal and is represented by Leigh Day.

    The case has serious implications for foreign nationals who have completed their criminal sentences but who remain in immigration detention following a court recommendation that they be deported. Some people may remain in immigration detention for periods of three to five years after completing relatively short criminal sentences of one year or less. The Secretary of State was successful in the High Court in arguing that these people cannot make a claim for false imprisonment, even where a court finds that a person has been unlawfully detained. It is a fundamental constitutional principle that legal wrongs require a remedy. The High Court ruling means that there is no sanction against the Secretary of State for unlawful detention of those recommended by the court for deportation.

    Pierre Makhlouf, BID’s Assistant Director (Legal) said:

    “Theresa May is arguing that the Government should not be penalised for unlawful behaviour on their part. It is an illogical, if not cruel approach to foreign nationals since it allows a culture of impunity and illegality to go unchallenged.”

    “BID is intervening in this case to ensure that the Court of Appeal takes into account the position of the many immigration detainees who lack legal aid and legal representation, and who will suffer severe consequences if the original decision of the High Court is allowed to stand.

    “This comes at a time when the Government is seeking to remove certain rights of appeal in family and long residence cases, having already removed entitlement to legal aid in these cases.  Instead of access to justice, people with a strong case to remain in the UK will continue to be detained for unacceptably long periods when there is no prospect of their removal from the UK.”

    BID are represented pro bono by Tim Buley of Landmark Chambers and Jane Ryan of Bhatt Murphy solicitors.

    Jane Ryan, said:  

    “The High Court judgment severely curtails the ability of a significant class of detainee held under Immigration powers following a court recommendation for deportation to enforce their rights. In the current climate with the sustained attacks on public funding and immigration the work BID does to assist is even more important and needed than it has ever been.”

    Contact:

    Pierre Makhlouf at BID on 020 7650 0723 oJane Ryan at Bhatt Murphy Solicitors on 020 7729 1115

     

     

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