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  • Meet Elli and Nick: working to help detained parents get ‘Free for Christmas’

    21 November 2014

    ‘I still find it shocking that parents are taken away from their children for immigration detention purposes when it is clearly in the best interests of the child to be looked after by their mum or dad.’ - Elli

    Elli, our Legal Manager in the family team, qualified in immigration law in 2007 and has been heading up the team at BID for the last six years.  She works hard to get bail for parents so they can be reunited with their children and feels privileged to do this with the help of two extremely competent law graduate volunteers, Araniya and Elena as well as Nick the legal caseworker.  Elli has 14 years of experience in the sector having worked at the Refugee Council, Save the Children and the Refugee Legal Centre before coming to BID.  

    A law graduate with an MA in Human Rights, Nick initially came to BID as a volunteer and combined three days’ a week volunteering at BID with two days a week working with ‘high-risk’ offenders, and victims of crime at Surrey & Sussex Probation Trust.  While volunteering at BID, he studied asylum and immigration law, passing his Level 3 accreditation with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) in April 2012.  He was appointed as part-time Legal Caseworker with the family team in June 2013.

    In the vast majority of our cases the detention of parents is unnecessary, inappropriate, and only serves to punish children" - Nick

    BID’s Christmas 2014 appeal, ‘Free for Christmas’, is highlighting the work done by BID’s legal managers, our trained and accredited volunteer legal caseworkers, and the barristers who generously give their time to work pro bono to seek the release of parents separated by immigration detention from their children. 

    Please help BID to continue this essential work by making a donation here to our Free For Christmas appeal. 

    For further information contact  

  • BID’s ‘Free for Christmas’ appeal launches with a focus on Britain’s troubling secret - the separation of families for immigration purposes

    21 November 2014

    Every day in Britain children are separated from their parents.  For these particular children, it’s not because their parents have abused or neglected them, but because their parents are subject to immigration control and the government has decided to detain them while they try to remove or deport them from the UK.   Despite the fact that the Home Office has a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, decisions are made daily to place parents in immigration detention leaving their children in the care of others. 

    The impact of this separation on children is devastating.  Research we have carried out has shown that children’s behaviour tends to worsen, they suffer from poor sleep, nightmares, poor attention and developmental delays.  We find this truly shocking and we do not believe that parents should be separated from their children simply because they are foreign nationals subject to immigration control.  Can you think of any other setting in the UK where this would be allowed to happen?

    The government doesn’t have to detain anyone - in fact, detention should be a last resort and there are alternatives to detention which ensure that people keep in touch with the authorities.  There’s no time limit to immigration detention and, unlike the criminal justice system, there’s no automatic bail hearing and no automatic legal aid or representation for people in detention.   Parents can stay in detention for weeks, months or even years. 

    Our separated families’ project emerged from our project to end the detention of children and families.  We were alarmed at the move towards separating families by detaining parents.  At BID, our family team provides legal advice and representation to parents in immigration detention to help them get released. In the last year, the team reunited 338 children with their parents.   Alongside the legal casework we carry out research to provide evidence to civil servants and politicians to try and persuade them that there are other, more humane ways, to control immigration

    Dorothy was separated from her son by detention. She told us:

    “It was almost five months in Yarl’s Wood.  I just saw my son the one time. Because he was asking me “why can’t you come home mummy? You don’t come. Mummy let’s go home”.  When he came to visit he said “Mummy can I sleep here with you?” If I look at him I try to control myself, not to cry in front of him, so when he left I was crying and saying ‘God help me’.  It was very hard.”

    We want to bring an end to the separation of families by detention. And we will be launching a big push on our cases, trying to set parents free, so they can spend Christmas and the holiday period with their families.

    Please help BID to continue this essential work by making a donation here to our Free For Christmas appeal. 

    For further information contact

     

    See also  'Meet Elli and Nick: working to help detained parents get ‘Free for Christmas'

    Coming soon  'Meet the volunteer legal caseworkers working to seek release for detained parents'

  • 'State of Children’s Rights in England' report criticises UK Government for detaining migrant children and separating families.

    19 November 2014 Press Release

    The twelfth State of Children’s Rights in England report  reveals that, despite the Government’s commitment to ending child detention, 203 children were detained in 2013. (1) Seventy of these children were less than five years old. 

     

    The report is published on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It also criticises the Government’s practice of splitting migrant families by detaining parents without their children. It notes that, due to legal aid cuts ‘families may not be able to challenge decisions by the Home Office to permanently separate them, even when these decisions are unlawful.’

     

    The report finds that the Home Office  is considering the possibility of using physical force to remove asylum seeking and migrant children from the UK. It notes that this would breach the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

     

    The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has previously recommended that the UK Government should end child detention, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children should never be separated from parents for the purposes of immigration control.

     

    Sarah Campbell, Research and Policy Manager at Bail for Immigration Detainees, commented:

     

    We wholeheartedly support the report’s recommendations that the Government should end the immigration detention of children, and stop separating migrant families by locking up parents'.

     

    ‘The psychological distress experienced by children in immigration detention is well documented. (2)

     

    Children who are split from detained parents describe losing weight, having nightmares, crying frequently and becoming deeply unhappy.(3) We urge the Government to implement this report’s recommendations without delay.’

     

    Contact: Sarah Campbell, Research and Policy Manager, Bail for Immigration Detainees: 07803 630 406 


     

    Notes to Editors

     

    (1) In May 2010 the coalition Government committed to ending the immigration detention of children. Cabinet Office (2010) 'The Coalition: our programme for government', p21.

    (2) See for example Lorek, A. Entholt, K. et al. (2009) “The mental and physical health difficulties of children held within a British immigration detention center: A Pilot Study” Child Abuse and Neglect Vol. 33 Issue 9, pp573-585; Children’s Commissioner for England (2010) Follow up report to: The arrest and detention of children who are subject to immigration control

    (3) Bail for Immigration Detainees (2013) 'Fractured Childhoods: the separation of families by immigration detention'

    (4) CRAE will launch its State of Children's Rights in England 2014 report on Wednesday 19 November in the Jubilee Room in the Houses  of Parliament.

    (5) 20th November 2014 is the 25th anniversary of the UN’s adoption of the UN human rights treaty for children – the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The UK agreed to uphold the standards in the Convention in 1991. The UN Committee on the Right’s of the Child will examine the UK’s compliance with the Convention in 2015.

    (6) The Children’s Rights Alliance for England is a charity working with over 100 organisational and individual members to promote children’s rights.

    (7) Report available from CRAE’s website: www.crae.org.uk from 00.01 19 November 2014

  • BID gives oral evidence to the parliamentary inquiry into the use of immigration detention in the UK

    17 November 2014

    On 6th November BID provided oral evidence to the APPG on Refugees and APPG on Migration parliamentary inquiry into the use of immigration detention in the UK.   BID's Dr Adeline Trude gave evidence to the panel on current difficulties faced by detainees in IRCs and prisons in getting access to immigration legal advice throughut their time in detention, the harsh conditions and barriers to communication with courts and lawyers experienced by the hundreds of detainees who are held in the prison estate outside statutory guidance and safeguards, and the delays of weeks or months in provison by the Home Office of Section 4(1)(c) bail addresses which stop detainees seeking release on bail.

    BID sat on a panel with The Bingham Centre for the Rule of LawBhatt Murphy Solicitors, and the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association.

    BID's written evidence to the inquiry can be found here.  

    The website for the inquiry can be found here.  

  • BID provides oral evidence to parliament's Justice Committee

    28 October 2014

    On 21st October, BID provided oral evidence to parliament's Justice Committee. The committee is investigating the impact of the April 2013 legal aid cuts. BID's Sarah Campbell set out the desperate situation faced by many immigration detainees following the cuts. She argued that the exceptional case funding scheme, which was set up after the cuts came in, is not an accessible or meaningful safeguard for detainees. The online magazine 'Legal Voice' produced a summary of the evidence session. You can also watch the evidence session in full here

  • BID comments on Family Returns Panel's report

    9 October 2014

    On 9/10/14, the Independent Family Returns Panel published their Annual Report for 2012-14 - download this here. The panel advises the Home Office on the immigration detention of children and forcible removal of families from the UK. 

    Sarah Campbell, Research and Policy Manager at Bail for Immigration Detainees, commented: 

    ‘The Home Office appears to have initiated enforcement action against very many families unnecessarily. In the cases of 242 out of 649 families in the returns process, the Home Office did not in the end pursue the family’s removal.

    ‘We welcome a number of the panel’s recommendations, such as their call for the Home Office to provide anti-malarial protection to children before forcibly removing them from the UK. However, we urge the panel to reconsider their position on child detention and use of force against children.  

  • New BID report on bail address delays 'No place to go: delays in Home Office provision of Section 4(1)(c) bail accommodation '

    25 September 2014

    Many immigration detainees are reliant on the Home Office to provide them with accommodation on release given the absence of friends or family in the community who might be willing or able to accommodate them on release.  Over recent years, unacceptable delays by the Home Office in providing bail accommodation have meant that significant numbers of detainees are denied timely access to justice as they need accommodation in order to apply for release.  

     

    BID established the Accommodation & Release Project to gather evidence on these delays to use in policy work with civil servants.  The project also undertakes specialist casework, outreach, and policy work on bail addresses more broadly, including NOMS Approved Premises and licence address checks, and supports BID’s more complex applications for release from detention.

     

    Inability to get a Home Office Section 4 (1)(c ) bail address in a timely fashion is also a major factor behind some of the very lengthy periods of immigration detention endured by detainees in the UK.  Having to wait weeks or months to apply for a bail address before an application for release can be lodged adds to the length of time spent in detention.  

     

    You can download the report from the very bottom of the right hand column on this page, or from our research pages. 

     

    We found a clear and dramatic difference between the average (mean) time taken by the Home Office to make a grant of Initial Accommodation (IA) where facilities are shared between all residents, including women and children, and Standard Dispersal Accommodation (SDA) which is self-contained to a greater or lesser degree. 

     

    Our research found that the average total time taken by the Home Office to conclude the Section 4 (1)(c ) application process from application to grant letter where a dispersal bail address was provided was 103 days (over 14 weeks), with a range of 5 to 503 days (1 to 71 weeks).  Where Initial Accommodation was granted as bail accommodation, the Home Office took on average 9 days (range 1-88 days) to make the grant.  

     

    The early stages in an application for a Section 4 (1)(c ) bail address, during which the appropriate type of bail accommodation is determined by the Home Office, still takes far too long.  Our research found that on average, the Home Office is taking 46 days (more than 6 weeks) simply to acknowledge an application for a bail address and decide what type of accommodation they will provide, even before any request is made to contractors for this accommodation.

     

    After that, accommodation providers (G4S, Serco and Clearel) with COMPASS contracts to provide bail accommodation are taking on average over 3 weeks to give a bail address to the Home Office. Although in 66% of the cases we studied COMPASS contractors sourced a bail address within 7 days, in the other 34% of the cases studied there were often significant delays (30 days, 84 days, 99 days).  The contractual requirement is for accommodation providers to deliver a dispersal address within 9 working days. 

     

    The Home Office is also taking too long to ask contractors to provide accommodation.

     

    • Mr B waited 42 days between the refusal of his first Section 4 (1)(c ) address by probation and the Home Office request for a second address from accommodation providers, and a further 24 days between the second refusal and the Home Office making a request for a third address (a total of 66 days or nearly 10 weeks during which time his application sat on a Home Office desk).

    Once an address is provided by contractors, licence-related address approvals by probation services, where required, add a further step to the Section 4 (1)(c ) application process which is to some degree outside the control of the Home Office.  However, the management of these checks by the Home Office appears to be hampered by a lack of up to date information on licence dates, which again adds delays to the total application time.

     

    Taken together,  the delays at each stage in the application process for Section 4 (1)(c ) bail support have the potential to lengthen the amount of time spent in detention and lengthen the bail cycle, both to an unacceptable degree.   It is not uncommon for a grant of Home Office Section 4 (1)(c ) support to take several months to conclude,  during which time the applicant is unable to exercise their right to apply for release on bail.  Bail acts as an independent review of ongoing detention and a crucial safeguard for detainees given the absence of an upper limit on an individual’s immigration detention in the UK.  

     


  • New BID report on the hidden use of prisons for immigration detention

    15 September 2014

    Today BID is publishing a new report 'Denial of Justice: the hidden use of UK prisons for immigration detention'.

    As of the 31 December 2013, 2,796 people were held in immigration detention in immigration removal centres, in short-term holding facilities, and in pre-departure accommodation, but a further 1214 people were being held as immigration detainees in the prison estate.

    Being detained and losing one’s liberty is bad enough when a person is held in an immigration removal centre, but immigration detention in a prison is unfair and unjust from the start.  Detainees held in the prison estate suffer from multiple, systemic, and compounding barriers to accessing justice, with an often devastating effect on their ability to progress their immigration case, seek independent scrutiny of their ongoing detention from the courts and tribunals, and seek release from detention, as well as on their physical and mental wellbeing.

    The report can be downloaded from the bottom of the right hand column of this page, or obtained via enquiries(at)biduk.org 

    This report lays out evidence for these practical barriers, which include but are not limited to: 

    - no automatic access to on-site immigration legal advice like that provided for detainees in IRCs;

    - the existence of financial disincentives to legal aid providers who wish to work with detainees in prisons under current Legal Aid Agency contracts; immigration detainees routinely held under serving prisoner regimes;

    - prison regimes and restrictions that preclude the holding of mobile phones,

    - inadequate access to wing telephones during working hours, and a slow internal postal system in prisons, which delay and frustrate timely communication with legal advisers, the courts, and the Home Office;

    - lack of internet access in prisons which hinders legal research for unrepresented detainees, and makes cooperation with the Home Office redocumentation process very difficult; 

    - Home Office escorting failures resulting in failure to produce detainees at bail hearings;

    - time limited videolink connections to prisons for bail hearings; delays in receipt of Home Office bail summaries as a result of slow internal mail in prisons;

    - loss of grants of Home Office Section 4 (1)(c ) bail accommodation as a result of production failures and listing delays, sometimes after several months waiting for a grant of a bail address; 

    - Home Office failure to provide travel warrants enabling detainees held in prisons and produced in person at hearing centres to reach their Home Office Section 4(1)(c) bail address if granted bail;

    - failure to fit electronic tags within the prescribed two working days resulting in extended detention in prison.

     


  • Latest Home Office travel document timescales grid now available via BID Freedom of Information Act request, August 2014

    8 September 2014

    Every year BID asks the Home Office to disclose its guidance on timescales to obtain travel documents by country.  

    This guidance document for Home Office staff contains information whether a European Union (EU) letter or Emergency Travel Document (ETD) is required for return, the minimum documentary requirements for an ETD, timescales for production of an ETD if original evidence is available, if only copy evidence is available, or no evidence is available at all.

    The guidance disclosed by the Home Office to BID is dated August 2014, and is titled ‘Country Returns Documentation Guide’.  The format of this document has changed slightly since the August 2013 and earlier versions known as the ‘RDGU Country Reference Guide’. 

    The Home Office has redacted the following columns for the first time, from left to right on the document:

    The column 'Current likelihood of ETD agreement' is not listed on this document, though it has always been included in previous versions of this document and the contents redacted.  

    It may be of interest to note that version of guidance disclosed to BID in August 2014 the Home Office no longer offers timescales for Algerian travel documents, whether with or without evidence, whereas in the guidance disclosed in August 2014 there were suggested timescales.   

    You can download the 2014 version of the Home Office document and the version disclosed in August 2013 from the very bottom of the right hand column on this page, or contact  

     

  • 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) at City University, 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. 


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