Detainees in prison denied immigration advice – BID
Hundreds of foreign nationals in the UK are being denied access to immigration advice according to new research from the charity Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID).
In their new report, Mind the Gap: Immigration Advice for Detainees in Prisons, BID has found that just 1 in 20 people held under immigration powers in prison have received independent advice on their immigration case. More than 10% of immigration detainees in the UK – some 500 at any one time – are held in prisons rather than Immigration Removal Centres.
The report also shows that less than a quarter of detainees in prison have an immigration solicitor, and, among people detained following the end of a criminal sentence, 95% are given less than two weeks’ notice that they face further detention and removal from the UK.
Commenting on the report, BID’s Policy & Research Manager John Hopgood said:
“Less than a quarter of immigration detainees in prison have access to an immigration solicitor. Less than 5% can access any independent immigration advice. These findings wouldn’t seem out of place on some Human Rights Watch list, but they’re actually from right here in the UK.
“The hidden use of prisons as a place to hold immigration detainees is continuing at an unprecedented level, and in many cases it leads to a fundamental breach of detainees’ rights to access justice. If any British citizen, anywhere in the world, was kept – without warning – in prison after they had finished serving a criminal sentence there would, rightly, be uproar. Yet the British government routinely holds foreign nationals in exactly that manner.
“Almost half the detainees we spoke to while carrying out this research were only told of their detention on the day they expected to be released. That is a shocking abuse of power.
“Access to justice isn’t a luxury that the government can take away on a whim. It is appalling that immigration detainees continue to be held in prison, and it is simply unacceptable that they are denied access to any immigration advice while they are there.”
The full report is available here.