AVID Training
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Despite a global pandemic, detention and deportations are taking place at an increased pace and scale, particularly charter flights.

The Home Secretary has pledged to remove 1,000 small boat arrivals before the 31st December. This has, without a doubt, increased the suffering of people in detention, and raises many questions about how members of our volunteer visitor network should respond.

Recently we welcomed more than 40 volunteer visitors from eight detention visitor groups across the UK to the first of a two-part webinar series on Charter Removal Flights. In a context where volunteer visitors have been increasingly supporting people in distress, who are seeking to exercise their rights, trainers Adam Spray (Legal Manager, Bail for Immigration Detainees) and Tom Nunn (Solicitor, Duncan Lewis Solicitors and Trustee of AVID) approached the question of how to access good quality legal advice.

Access to legal advice

One of the greatest injustices of immigration detention in the UK is that a significant proportion of people held are not able to access good quality legal advice and representation throughout their entire time in detention.

Since the increased number of weekly charter flights, the access to legal advice for people in detention has worsened considerably and the strain on the Detention Duty Advice Scheme is starting to show.

What did we learn?

1) We know that volunteers cannot give legal advice. But it is not ‘legal advice’ for a visitor to say to someone in detention that there are legal aid lawyers available and to explain how to sign up for an appointment. In doing so, visitors can play a key role in raising awareness about the DDA and empowering people to exercise their rights.

2) Due to COVID-19, Detention Duty Advice (DDA) surgeries are being held over the phone but people in detention can bring important documents to welfare beforehand to be scanned and sent to their lawyer ahead of a surgery.

3) The government’s legal aid contract states that during a DDA surgery, lawyers must give advice on bail, and give a written outcome at the end of an appointment. For surgeries held over the phone, the written outcome should be faxed over soon after.

4) Legal aid does not run out, a lawyer with a legal aid contract can apply to extend it any number of times.

5) Removal Directions must be given to an individual five days in advance of the proposed removal date.

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