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  • 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. 


  • 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 produces briefing for UN Human Rights Committee

    25 July 2014

    The UN Human Rights Committee is currently assessing the UK’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. BID has produced a briefing for the committee outlining our key concerns, including: unlawful detention; the erosion of detainees' access to legal aid and judicial review and the separation of families by immigration detention. Download the briefing here. 

  • 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...

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