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  • '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

     

     

  • BIDís survey of legal advice across the detention estate

    3 October 2013

    You can download findings from BID’s surveys of legal advice in Immigration Removal Centres hereWe remain concerned at the length of time detainees in many Immigration Removal Centres have to wait in order to see a solicitor at the legal advice surgeries provided by the Legal Aid Agency.  69% of the people we spoke to for this survey had waited more than one week for an appointment, and of these 38% had waited two weeks (or two weeks to date), 21% had waited for three weeks (or three weeks to date) to see a solicitor. 

     

  • Further cuts to legal aid would mean detainees could not challenge ill-treatment

    3 October 2013

    In the Ministry of Justice’s ‘Transforming Legal Aid’ consultation, which was published in April 2013, a residence test was proposed for foreign nationals. This would prevent people who do not have leave to remain in the UK, and have not been living her lawfully for at least 12 months from accessing legal aid. This residence test is likely to be unlawful  and will certainly be unworkable in practice, as many organisations who submitted their views to the Ministry of Justice laid out in detail.  

  • Latest set of findings from BID's survey of legal representation across the UK detention estate

    13 September 2013

    Every six months for the last three years BID has carried out a survey of legal representation across the UK detention estate.  We ask detainees whether they have a solicitor at the time we speak to them, how they found that solicitor, whether they pay fees for advice or have legal aid, and what work their solciitor has done for them.  How long did they have to wait to see a legal aid solicitor at the surgery in their IRC?  Have they had to change solcitors after being transferred or moving into or out of the Scottish legal system?  We also ask people whether they have come to an IRC from prison, and if so whether they got any immigration advice while in prison.  

    A summary of the key quantitative findings of all six surveys can be found on this page. 

    In June this year (2013) for the first time we sent this survey to all our clients who are detained in the prison estate, where of course there is no provison of immigration legal advice surgeries by the Legal Aid Agency, the Home Office, or HM Prison Service.  These findings will be published shortly. 

    Key findings from May - June 2013

    Going down 

    43% of detainees we spoke to had a legal representative (79% had a legal representative just six months earlier)

    Going up

    69% of respondents had waited for more than one week for a legal surgery appointment.  Of these 38% waited (or had waited to date) for two weeks before seeing a lawyer, 21% had waited for 3 weeks (or 3 weeks to date), and 8% for 4 weeks or more.  The proportion of those facing a delay before seeing a lawyer for the first time keeps rising.

    26% of detainees who took part in the survey had never had a lawyer while they had been detained.  

  • New BID factsheet on getting Probation approval for an immigration bail address

    12 September 2013 Press Statement

    Immigration detainees with a conviction may still be within their Licence period while they are being detained.  A standard condition of their Licence will be that any address where they propose to live if released must be approved by Probation. This also applies to immigration detainees applying to the First-tier Tribunal for release on immigration bail, whether they have private accomodation or have to rely on Section 4 (1)(c) bail accomodaiton provided by the Home Office.

    Bail applicants with a private address routinely find that they cannot get their bail case heard, as the timetable for licence-related checks (which may take weeks) cannot accomodate the quick turnaround from lodging to listing operated by the Tribunal (99.2% of cases listed within 6 days during the year to April 2013).

    For detainees reliant on Section 4 bail accomodation, these checks are adding to the already unacceptable amount of time it takes to get a bail address in many cases, and lengthen the bail cycle.  The Home Office must pay for Section 4 accomodation to remain empty while these checks are carried out. 

    BID is keen to support offender managers in their work to ensure that all releases into the community are safe and properly managed.  We continue to work with NOMS, the First-tier Tribunal, and the Home Office, to try to find practical solutions to the timing problems that have arisen as a system that works for the criminal justice system is superimposed on the immigration detention estate. 

    In the meantyime, for detainees with no legal representation, we have now produced a booklet explaining how these licence-related checks work, and what to do if it is proving difficult to get a bail application heard within a reasonable time.

    The booklet can be downloaded here on the bulletins page, or from the very bottom of the right hand column on this page.

     

     

     

     

  • Government's proposed changes to legal aid threaten childrenís access to justice - letter to The Daily Telegraph

    11 July 2013 Press Statement

    Twenty seven organisations, including BID, have written to the Daily Telegraph to outline the harm which further cuts to legal aid would cause to children and young people.

    The signatories to the letter are The Children’s Society, Action for Children, Barnardo’s, National Children’s Bureau, Children England, Shelter, Voice, Kids Company, Young Minds, Standing Committee for Youth Justice, Just for Kids Law, Youth Access, National Council for Voluntary Youth Services, The Howard League for Penal Reform, Asylum Aid, Bail of Immigration Detainees, JustRights, Coram Children’s Legal Centre, Freedom From Torture, ECPAT UK, Children’s Rights Alliance for England, Law Centres Network, Praxis Community Projects, Independent Parental Special Education Advice (IPSEA), Baobab Centre for Young Survivors in Exile, Child Poverty Action Group, and The Who Cares? Trust.

    The letter says 

  • Further threats to access to justice

    21 June 2013

     A matter of days after sweeping cuts to legal aid were introduced in April 2013, the Ministry of Justice published details of further proposed reforms to legal aid in the consultation document ‘Transforming Legal Aid’. 

     

    Two of the proposed changes, if introduced as described, would remove at a stroke access to justice for the majority of immigration detainees in a manner that is shocking, practically unworkable, and it seems also unlawful. 

     

  • New factsheet for detainees on immigration appeals including deportation

    21 June 2013

    BID has put together a factsheet for people in detention called ‘Immigration appeals including deportation: The Home Office has refused me permission to stay in the UK. Can I appeal their decision?’ click here to download the booklet.

     

    It lays out in detail the different stages of an appeal procedure.  The intention is to provide some general information, presented in a straightforward manner, to allow people facing deportation to understand the process better, whether their appeal is already underway with legal aid, whether they will be paying for legal advice in their deport matter, or whether they have no financial means are therefore considering putting together their own appeal against deportation. 

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