"The difficult thing about being in detention here is not knowing where you are, not knowing where you stand basically. They don’t give you much information."

Amadou was seven years old when he came to the UK from Sierra Leone. In 1995 he was granted Indefinite Leave to Remain.

"My mum came first then she sent for me to come and I had to come over. She didn’t claim asylum, she just came over. In those days you just got a visa and came over. I went through schooling here.  When I was about 15 or 16 I got my own leave to remain."

In 2005 Amadou was arrested and sentenced to five years for possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply. The police also issued him with a deportation order that would invalidate his leave to remain. At the end of his sentence Amadou was kept in prison for a further two months before being transferred to Harmondsworth removal centre. While in detention his first appeal against his deportation order failed. With the help of a solicitor to whom he is paying fees, at the time BID met with Amadou he had a court date pending to appeal his deportation order for a second time.

"When I came into this place here [Harmondsworth] I got help to pay for a normal solicitor. The legal aid one that I used they basically haven’t done nothing since all the time, so my appeal was getting delayed. They basically took the fee but didn’t do that much for me. The new ones that are paid are doing more work quicker and they let you know what’s going on. Before with the last solicitor I didn’t get a letter, phone call, nothing. Every time I wanted to speak to them they said we can’t get there for two weeks, things like that. They didn’t really bother."

When Amadou was arrested he was living with his partner and three children. 

"I’ve got three kids. Two of them are her kids, two of them are from her basically and the other child is with me. On the phone I speak to them quite often, but because it’s a bit far to come from east London, they have to go to school and my girl goes to university so it’s a bit kind of, a bit far.

"The oldest one he understands what’s happening to me. The one that doesn’t really know where I am is still only four. He’s not really aware of what’s going on. The next one he understands a little bit but not too much. He knows that I’m not basically at home and I’m somewhere away where he can’t see me."

While all of Amadou’s family is here in the UK, including his British-born child, he has no ties whatsoever with Sierra Leone. 

"I would say England is my home country because I don’t know nowhere else. I came here when I didn’t know nothing else. All I know is England. I don’t know Sierra Leone as my country, I don’t know it at all.

"I don’t know what I would do if I had to leave the UK, leave my kids.  Phew, I can’t cope, I can’t even think about it, I don’t want to think about it."

Helpline for detainees

Tel: 020 7456 9750
Fax: 020 3745 5226

Helpline open Monday to Thursday between 10am and 12 midday


020 7456 9762 (Monday to Friday)
Please note, it is not possible to get information or advice via this number.

Crafted by Tincan