New research published today by the charity Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) shows that access to legal advice for people detained under immigration powers remains at a critically low level.
BID’s latest Legal Advice Survey shows that just two-thirds of detainees currently have a legal representative, and 1 in 10 have never had any legal advice while in detention. Detention in the UK has no upper time limit; 30,000 people are detained every year, and the government’s own data shows that there are currently more than 300 people who have been detained for more than 6 months.
Commenting on the research, BID’s Policy Manager John Hopgood said:
“Once again, the grim realities of legal aid cuts are clear to see. The government continues to use detention as an administrative convenience, while denying the people they detain access to even the most basic legal advice."
“Everybody entering detention is entitled to 30 minutes of free legal advice. Yet our research has shown that one in three people in detention are unaware that this service exists. Accessing legal advice is a lottery - barely half of detainees have ever been able to make an appointment. That’s simply unacceptable."
“Actual levels of representation remain unacceptably low, putting a huge burden on charities like BID to try and fill the gaps. Nobody in detention – detention of any kind – should be expected to fight their case without access to legal advice."
“The government’s detention regime is fundamentally flawed in many ways. By denying potentially thousands of people every year any access to legal advice, the government are saying that access to justice simply doesn’t matter."
“We think it does, and so we’ll be calling on the Government to reverse the devastating Legal Aid cuts and ensure everybody has the right to have their case heard fairly.”