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  • BID welcomes the recent judgment in the High Court in the case of Idira v SSHD [2014] EWHC 4299 about the detention of immigration detainees in prisons rather than immigration removal centres.

    24 December 2014

    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.

    Mr Idira was a client of BID, and BID provided witness statements in support of the Claimant based on our research and policy work and casework in our prisons legal team.

    The Claimant is represented by Jane Ryan of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors and Graham Denholm of Landmark Chambers

    The Bhatt Murphy press release says: 

    "The Claimant challenged the legality of the policy of routinely holding immigration detainees in prisons and “Operation 1000” effective between November 2012 to Spring 2014.  The effect of the policy was to hold immigration detainees in prisons without individual risk assessment.

    Mr Justice Jay found the approach of the Secretary of State was a "systemic” public law error [56] & [84]. He found that the policy requiring detention in prisons was a blanket policy which permitted no exceptions [41]. He found that the Secretary of State’s reason for the changing the policy was “nothing to do with assessment of risk or the interests of immigration detainees, but everything to do with administrative convenience” [26].

    He declined to make a declaration that the policy was unlawful in the circumstances of the Claimant’s case as the Claimant had been released. He noted that the reason for holding the Claimant in prison conditions after 3 July 2013 was “fundamentally flawed” [56].

    In his judgment Mr Justice Jay commented that holding immigration detainees in prisons required:

    sound and proper justification within the context of Article 5(1)(f), and the policy matrix which the Defendant has devised and implemented. A policy which either systematically or invariably...has a consequence of holding those in the Claimant’s position in prison, rather than in an IRC, cannot be properly justified. Moreover, the implementation of such a policy severs the requisite link which must exist in cases such as these to justify detention under Article 5.....[75]

    The judge concluded [75] that if the matter were free from authority he would have held that the “Defendant’s incarceration of the Claimant [in prison rather than an IRC].... was in breach of his rights under Article 5(1)(f) of the ECHR; and a sufficiently serious breach to sound in damages.” However, the matter was not free from authority. The judge (with “considerable reluctance”) considered himself bound by the Court of Appeal’s decision in Krasniqi v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] EWCA Civ 1549, to dismiss the claim. Given the conclusions he would have reached if not so bound, Mr Justice Jay granted permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal in order that the Article 5 issue can be further considered.

    The judgment can be found here.

    Read BID's recent research report 'Denial of Justice: the hidden use of prisons for immigration detention' here.  

  • BID's AGM 2015, 'Detained, Denied and Deported: the human consequences of the legal aid cuts'

    18 December 2014

    When: Tuesday 20th January 2015 at 6pm

    Where: Amnesty International UK, Human Rights Action Centre, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London, EC2A 3EA


    Confirmed speakers:    

    Jeremy Corbyn MP 

    Richard Drabble QC, Landmark Chambers

    Carmen Kearney, Legal Manager, Bail for Immigration Detainees

    In April 2013, the Government introduced wide-ranging legal aid cuts. Now, the vast majority of people making immigration claims cannot access legal aid. BID regularly receives calls from people who want to challenge their deportation, but are unable to do so without legal representation. 

    Some detainees came to the UK as children, and have lived here all their lives. We are dealing with distressing cases in which parents are being deported and separated from partners and young children in the UK.

    In 2014, BID and the University of Law launched a three year deportation advice project, to assist a small number of the many people who desperately need representation. We are also gathering evidence from our casework to lobby against the cuts, and developing strategic legal challenges.

    Join us to discuss what can be done to improve access to justice for immigration detainees.


    6.00 pm                 Welcome and formal business

    6.15 pm                 Speakers followed by questions from the audience

    7.30 pm                 Drinks and snacks

    There is no charge for this event but booking is essential. Contact to reserve your place. seats will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

    The venue is wheelchair accessible. Travel expenses are payable for unwaged asylum seekers or migrants by prior arrangement – please contact Kamal on 020 7456 9753 to discuss.  

  • BID submits evidence to Justice Committee Inquiry on legal aid cuts

    10 December 2014

    On 1st December, BID submitted further evidence to 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.


  • Meet BID's volunteer assistant legal caseworkers working to seek release for detained parents

    3 December 2014

    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. 

    BID would not be able to do the work it does, or provide legal advice and representation to as many detainees as it does, without assistance from our volunteer assistant legal caseworkers.   Our trained and accredited volunteers provide legal advice under the supervision of a legal manager, and may also provide support to legal managers at our regular bail workshops and legal surgeries for detainees held in removal centres and prisons. 

    Volunteer assistant caseworkers often work with detained parents and their families over several months while we try to seek their release from detention.

    Elena, a law graduate, has also completed the Bar Professional Training Course to be a barrister.  

    “Volunteering for BID has hugely enriched my life. In a world where power is in the hands of all the wrong people, I feel it is my obligation to help those without a voice.”  

    Araniya has a Master’s degree in Law and has completed the Bar Professional Training Course.

    “Volunteering at BID has been the most eye-opening and satisfying experience. One of the most memorable cases was where a man, whose wife was heavily pregnant was released in time for the birth of his second child. It was wonderful to hear the elation in their voices when they realised that they would be reunited and share a new joy together after all the trauma they had overcome. Thanks to all the incredible work of everyone at BID and the pro-bono barristers, who genuinely have an altruistic commitment to human rights, there is hope even for people who feel that they have lost everything.” 

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

    For further information contact  

  • 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: 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.  

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