Please note this is an online event and first half an hour of this event (6.00pm-6.30pm) is the BID Annual General Meeting. Our speakers will join us for the second part of this event "Risky Business: detention decision-making and vulnerability during the pandemic" between 6.30pm and 8.00pm.
On 23rd March 2020 the UK went into lockdown. In immigration removal centres across the country however, it was business as usual. Public health messages from government instructed people to work from home, avoid public transport, wash hands frequently and thoroughly, and socially isolate. Those same messages reached those in detention who, in addition to the trauma of being locked up without knowing when they would be released, faced the very real fear of the pandemic potentially spreading like wildfire within detention. Closed settings at that stage were proving to be a high risk for transmission of the virus.
BID wrote to the Home Secretary requesting that all those in immigration detention be released. We argued that people’s health could not be put at risk when no removal flights would be taking place. The Home Secretary declined, but did begin to release hundreds of individuals, stating that those who were still detained were “high risk”.
BID’s response was twofold: first, to carry out as many bail applications as possible; and second, to carry out research into the Home Office’s decisions to detain during the lockdown. Our success rate in securing bail during this period was a staggering 95%. Our research uncovered systemic problems relating to the Home Office’s approach to assessments of risk of harm and absconding, imminence of removal, vulnerability, and failure to take account of the best interests of children.
Join us to hear from our speakers about how people continued to be detained despite not being removable, the impact of being detained during a global pandemic, and the Home Office’s careless and error-strewn approach to detention decision-making which failed to take into account the enormity of the changes brought about by the pandemic:
- Mr A, former client of BID’s Separated Families Team
- Dr Juliet Cohen, Head of Doctors, Freedom from Torture
- Zita Holbourne, Co-Founder & National Chair of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK
- Rudy Schulkind, BID Research & Policy Coordinator
- Adam Spray, Legal Manager of BID's Right to Liberty project