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Below are the summaries of reports and research studies published in late 2017

British Medical Association “Locked Up, Locked Out!"

The British Medical Association recently released their report "Locked Up, Locked Out: Health and Human Rights in Immigration Detention" looking at the role of doctors in protecting and promoting the health-related human rights of detained individuals. The report found that detained people present complex needs, a high rate of mental health problems and specific vulnerabilities as a result of past trauma. The BMA's report concludes that the Government must address the aspects of detention that adversely affect the health and wellbeing of those detained while revising detention policies and current healthcare provision. Ongoing training and support for those working with detained persons is necessary, as is a clear recognition of the vital importance of doctors working with complete clinical independence within the detention estate....Read more »

Amnesty International Report "Matter of Routine"

Amnesty International's recent report "Matter of Routine" examines the use of immigration detention powers since the Home Office reforms were announced in 2016. It shows how the routine approach to detention is manifested in policy and practice, and explores its impact through interviews with detained persons, their families and the lawyers representing them. The report found that detention policy has shifted from detention as a last resort towards detention as routine. This is resulting in harm to detainees' mental and physical health. "Detention is often based on flawed decision making and limited application of the person's case-history. Once detention has commenced, it is in many cases maintained as a matter of default or convenience." Amnesty International has several recommendations for the Home Office and the UK government to ensure that it complies with international human rights standards.

From the report, Amnesty International found that: "the single most common consequence of indefinite immigration detention reported to us by our interviewees was harm to their mental health. When we asked about the effects that detention had on them, 10 out of 16 detainees volunteered that their mental health had been seriously damaged by detention. For five, this was so severe that they had self-harmed or attempted suicide."...Read more »

Bar Council Report “Injustice in Immigration Detention, Perspectives from Legal Professionals”

New research by The Bar Council finds that immigration detention "operates in a very unjust way", has a "flawed statutory framework" and "inadequate routes to challenge decisions". The new report titled "Injustice in Immigration Detention, Perspectives from Legal Professionals" was based on interviews with barristers, solicitors, immigration judges and other specialists, pointing to poor decision-making and lack of accountability at the Home Office, inconsistency in judgements, and the absence of a statutory time-limit on detention. One barrister echoed the perspective of many research participants, saying of Home Office Presenting Officers: "Some are quite good, professional... others are incompetent, and some seem on some sort of mission to imprison people..." The report criticises Home Office bail summaries, officers adhering rigidly to "stupid codes", overlooking key details and failing to disclose important information at tribunal hearings. One judge spoke on the "shocking" rise in unrepresented litigants. The Bar Council warns that if changes are not made to the current system then "our international reputation is at risk."...Read more »

A helpful and informative video by The Bar Council can be watched here.

IVAR Report with Detention Action:

“Detained Fast Track Litigation Case Study: Using the law for social change”

How can strategic litigation successfully be used for social change? A new case study report from Institute for Voluntary Action Research looks at the successes, risks and challenges for our member Detention Action in using strategic litigation to suspend the 'Detained Fast Track' process.

In the report IVAR highlights four lessons learned from Detention Action's work: I) Issues suitable for strategic litigation are lkely to be entrenched, highly politicised, unlawful, well-evidenced and well-timed II) It is a huge undertaking for any small organisation and requires quick decision-making in response to shifting context III) Litigation requires a thoughtful advocacy strategy that carefully considers the external political and policy environment IV) It can be helpful to have a capable and mature NGO to front a coalition...Read more »

Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group Report on Young Arrivers: “Don't Dump Me in a Foreign Land”

Gatwick Detainee Welfare Group's recent report on young arrivers in immigration detention titled "Don't Dump Me in a Foreign Land" found that people who arrived in the UK when they were children represent a hidden but significant and especially vulnerable group inside IRCs in the UK.

Some of the common routes to detention are through traumatic life experiences as a child, through being in care, through the criminal justice system while young and through having insecure immigration status that is unresolved while as a child. Young arrivers in immigration detention experience specific types of harm while detained. They often spend significant periods of time in detention, with the average time that GDWG's participants were detained for being well over a year. The report found that issues with the age assessment process meant that young arrivers with disputed ages were vulnerable to detention despite the possibility that they were still under 18, and this often led to distress and abuse. Young arrivers who have been through the British school system, feel British and so experience a profound challenge to conceptions of identity and this results in isolation in detention, feelings of shock and disbelief, stress anxiety and depression. Every participant in the research project reported mental health problems while detained and some used substances to cope. When young arrivers are released back into the community in the UK, the support they are given is often inadequate and this, combined with the impact of being detained, rendered some vulnerable to criminality, prison and further detention...Read more »

Less than half of those in detention have legal representation - Bail for Immigration Detainees

New Six-monthly survey by the charity BiD reveals that access to legal representation for those held in immigration detention is seriously lacking and less than half of those questioned have a legal representative. 101 detainees being held in IRCs were interviewed in the survey and the findings are stark:

  • Only 44% detainees held in immigration detention currently have a legal representative.
  • And only 55% of those have a legal aid solicitor. Almost a third of detainees (29%) have never had a legal representative while in immigration detention.
  • Just 10% of detainees who were moved from prison to a detention centre received any legal advice about their immigration case while they were in prison.
  • At present almost 1 in 3 detainees have never had a legal representative whilst in detention, compared to 1 in 5 this time last year.

In 2012, prior to the implementation of the legal aid cuts implemented under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act, BID’s legal advice survey found that 79% of those held in immigration detention had a legal representative, and 75% of them were funded by legal aid. Today, less than a quarter have a representative funded by legal aid.

BiD has said in response to its findings that "It is simply unacceptable to deprive people of their liberty without ensuring appropriate access to legal advice and representation."...Read more »

Bristol University Research on Impact of Immigration Detention on Detainee’s Families

Research undertaken by Bristol University has examined the intersection of family life and immigration enforcement by following 30 mixed-immigration status families, consisting of men with precarious immigration status and their British and EEA-national partners and children. Under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (‘the respect for one’s private and family life’) the public interest of someone’s deportation is balanced against their personal circumstances. Major changes to the Immigration rules in 2012 restricted access to Article 8 rights for deportation cases or those with immigration or criminal offences. However, The UK government remains obliged to respect Article 8 rights and to protect families and children.

The research found “evidence of high ‘collateral damage’ from immigration enforcement to British and EEA-national family members, including children” Immigration-based separation from parents causes emotional, behavioural and educational harm, including anxiety, depression and attachment difficulties, and can diminish children’s sense of Britishness. Parents worry about the impacts on their children’s futures. The deprivations and instability of an irregular immigration status results in early and often extreme dependency on partners. This is likely to worsen under hostile environment policies. Citizens work multiple jobs and long hours to compensate for their partners’ forced unemployment. The financial burden affects conception and breast-feeding decisions, e.g. sacrificing maternity leave. Government routinely advises citizens to either relocate to countries of deportation or conduct their family life through telephone and Skype. The realities of both arrangements tend to be underplayed. Evidence from the research and the harm caused to individuals and their families, is enough justification for the government to revert “to its pre-2012 interpretation of Article 8 rights in settlement and deportation cases.” ...Read more »

Detention Action Research Briefing on Trafficking and Detention

New research has been undertaken by Detention Action on victims of trafficking and immigration detention, titled "Trafficked into Detention". This research has found that many victims of trafficking are detained for removal after being encountered during raids on brothels, nail bars and cannabis farms. Often, they are wrongly convicted of criminal offences relating to their exploitation. Detention makes it difficult for people who have been trafficked to disclose their experiences; to access specialist, independent trafficking advice and representation; or to be correctly identified as victims and given specialist support in the community. Detention Action claims that the Home Office faces a conflict of interest between its responsibility to identify and protect victims of trafficking and its role in detaining and removing undocumented migrants.

The research finds that the risk of failure to identify victims of trafficking in detention is exacerbated by the lack of effective procedural safeguards. Neither the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) nor the Home Office’s Guidance on Adults at Risk in Immigration Detention provides a clear and effective safeguard to ensure that potential victims of trafficking are identified and released from detention. Indefinite detention causes harm and prevents effective access to the NRM by denying victims of trafficking a safe space where they can disclose their experiences and access independent advice. As a result, the NRM is failing to protect victims of trafficking in detention. Looking at a sample group of 16 Vietnamese men encountered in immigration detention with indicators of trafficking, only nine of them had been referred into the NRM and only two of those had received a positive reasonable grounds decision. This is despite the fact that, overall, the great majority of people referred into the NRM are given positive reasonable grounds decisions. Detention Action offers some solutions to these issues and recommendations in their briefing....Read more »

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