Law centre JR prompts Home Office to Clarify Immigration Support
A law centre that took on the government over its immigration support has halted a High Court challenge after overdue guidance was published. A judicial review, brought by London-based Public Interest Law Centre on behalf of a homeless Syrian asylum seeker, known as 'MSM', was due to be heard this month. The challenge was over the absence of an adequate application process for accommodation sought under schedule 10 of the Immigration Act 2016 by individuals whose human rights might be breached. Asylum seekers, including those released from immigration detention on bail, can apply for accommodation and other support if they would otherwise be destitute.
Barristers Anthony Vaughan and Connor Johnston, of Garden Court Chambers, who were instructed by the law centre to represent MSM, said the Home Office was 'well aware' of the problems caused by the lack of a proper application process for schedule 10 accommodation from at least February 2018. That was the date the department agreed to draw up a 'clarified process' after concerns were raised. Last month the Home Office finally published an application form and guidance which covers situations such as MSM's, whose asylum claim was treated as 'withdrawn' but who then made further submissions that had yet to be recognised as a fresh claim.
Helen Mowatt: 'There was clearly something wrong'. Solicitor Helen Mowatt, of the Public Interest Law Centre, told the Gazette that she realised there was a policy challenge to be made after her friend, Isabella Mulholland, who was working at Hackney Winter Night Shelter, which helps homeless people, approached her for help and explained MSM's situation. Mowatt said: 'My instinct was that he was clearly eligible for support, but where's the application process? There was clearly something wrong.' Mowatt contacted the Asylum Support Appeals Project, which provides free legal representation and advice, and which has done work and research around the lack of an application process for those outside of detention. It provided key evidence for the challenge.
Judicial review proceedings were issued last November but the claim has now been stayed. A Home Office spokesperson said: 'Immigration bail is a valuable tool which enables individuals who are liable to be detained to remain in the community subject to conditions. We recognise that guidance on how to apply for bail accommodation could have been clearer, which is why we updated our guidance in April.'
Monidipa Fouzder, Law Gazette, https://is.gd/MBCStH
UN Highlights Role of UK Legal Aid Cuts in "Immiseration" Of Millions
The decimation of legal aid has contributed to "the systematic immiseration of millions across Great Britain", the UN's expert on poverty and human rights said yesterday. In a report condemned by the UK government, Philip Alston said justiciable problems that could have been resolved with legal representation have instead gone unaddressed as a result. "The results of the austerity experiment are crystal clear," the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights said in his report following an official visit to the UK last November.
There are 14 million people living in poverty, record levels of hunger and homelessness, falling life expectancy for some groups, ever fewer community services, and greatly reduced policing, while access to the courts for lower-income groups has been dramatically rolled back by cuts to legal aid. The imposition of austerity was an ideological project designed to radically reshape the relationship between the government and the citizenry. UK standards of well-being have descended precipitately in a remarkably short period of time, as a result of deliberate policy choices made when many other options were available."
Mr Alston is an Australian-born international law scholar and human rights practitioner who is currently a professor at New York University School of Law. In a section entitled 'Decimating legal aid', his report noted how public funding has been "dramatically reduced" in England and Wales since the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. "[The Act] made most housing, family and benefits cases ineligible for aid; ratcheted up eligibility criteria; and replaced many face-to-face advice services with telephone lines," he wrote. Consequently, the number of civil legal aid cases declined by a staggering 82% between 2010–2011 and 2017–2018. As a result, many poor people are unable to effectively claim and enforce their rights, have lost access to critical support, and some have even reportedly lost custody of their children. Lack of access to legal aid also exacerbates extreme poverty, since justiciable problems that could have been resolved with legal representation go unaddressed."
He argued that "the sustained and widespread cuts to social support, which have caused so much pain and misery, amount to retrogressive measures in clear violation of the United Kingdom's human rights obligations". Among his recommendations were that the government restore local government funding "to ensure crucial social protection can help people escape poverty", reverse "particularly regressive measures" such as the benefits cap and two-child limit, and audit the impact of tax and spending decisions on different groups.
The Department for Work and Pensions said the UN's own data showed the UK to be one of the happiest places in the world to live. "Therefore this is a barely believable documentation of Britain, based on a tiny period of time spent here. It paints a completely inaccurate picture of our approach to tackling poverty." Mr Alston will present his report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva next month.
Neil Rose, https://is.gd/somDOz
'At Risk' Adults Held in Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre
Almost 40% of people detained in Scotland's only immigration removal centre are classed as vulnerable, figures obtained by BBC Scotland show. Dungavel in South Lanarkshire holds asylum seekers and illegal immigrants who are awaiting deportation after their bid to stay in the UK has failed. Home Office guidance states there is "a clear presumption" that detention is not appropriate for vulnerable people. A spokeswoman said detention was used sparingly and only when necessary.
Campaigners, however, insist the "adults at risk" policy is not fit for purpose, and should be reviewed.
Dungavel opened as an immigrant detention centre in 2001 and is run on behalf of the Home Office by a private company. Like other centres around the UK it has been criticised by campaigners, with the detainees claiming they are treated like prisoners.
Concerns about the detention of vulnerable asylum seekers were raised by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons in 2015 and a report by Stephen Shaw led to plans for a change of approach. It says: "The clear presumption is that detention will not be appropriate if a person is considered to be at risk. However…it will remain appropriate to detain individuals at risk if it is necessary in order to remove them."
Read more: BBC News, https://is.gd/IqKUyQ
Asylum Research Consultancy Country of Information Update Vol. 195
This document provides an update of UK Country Guidance case law, UK Home Office publications and developments in refugee producing countries (focusing on those which generate the most asylum seekers in the UK) between 14 and 27 May 2019.
Download the full report: https://is.gd/ZMoTsU
Online Petition: Stop the Deportation of Hamid Baygi
Hamid Baygi has been detained in immigration detention despite living in the UK for 49 years and half.
He is being threatened with deportation on Tuesday 4th June. It is vital we show the Home Office this is unjust and seek his removal from detention!
He first came to the UK in January 1970, studying in various boarding schools, and Chippenham and Brunel Technical Colleges. In 1983, he was a correspondent for the Iranian New Agency in Madrid. Between 1988 and 1993 he worked in Kish University in a liaison capacity to British universities, enabling students based in the Gulf to study courses based under British educational licensing. Later on, in 1993, he worked in an official capacity as a teacher in a reputable international school in Worcesteshire. In 2001, he was granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
He has always lived in the UK legally, has always contributed to the British system and paid his taxes. Yet, at the age of 61, with numerous health problems, some of which were inflicted on him whilst he was in detention in 2015, including a torn rotator cuff, the Home Office is seeking to deport him.
In 2014, he was sentenced to 8 months in prison for pleading guilty to two crimes. His father had recently passed away and he was seeking help for depression and alcoholism as a result of this. The only reason he pleaded guilty was because he was advised to do so by his solicitor, advising he would be released if he did so. But this was not the case. Instead of being released at the hearing, as he was informed he would be, he was told he would not be released because he was being considered for deportation. He served 4 months in prison in Horfield HMP in Bristol, and a further 16 months having been served a Deportation Order as a result of his guilty pleas. Is this how someone who is going through problems should be treated? Neglecting the 40 years of contribution he has made to this country?
He was released from prison on 11th November 2016 on bail, as his solicitor put his case forward that detaining someone for such a period of time, for the crimes he committed (which he would not have pleaded guilty to had he not be advised to do so), was inhumane, and the fact that he had very willing guarantors. He has since been staying in Sheffield, where he has been involved in volunteering work and become part of the local community.
In Sheffield he had been attempting to appeal against the deportation order through a Human Rights Application. This is not covered by legal aid. Solicitors discouraged him from applying for Exceptional Case Funding, saying this was very unlikely to be accepted. But in March it was, and he has been doing all he can to chase his solicitors to complete his Human Rights Application, now that legal aid is in place.
But the Home Office are attempting to remove him before he can do so! It is shocking that the Home Office is seeking to deport someone who has lived in this country for decades. He has nothing in Iran, and at the age of 61 with his health problems, his life would be at risk.
I hope you agree and join me in calling on the Home Office to release a man who has been a contributing resident of this country for 40 years by signing this petition.
It is imperative we get Hamid Baygi released!
Sign the online petition: https://is.gd/SI3fE5
Source: South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group
Asylum Statistics Q1 January/February/March 2019
There were 8,637 enforced returns from the UK in the year ending March 2019, 25% fewer than the previous year (11,509).
The fall was largely accounted for by falls in: Enforced returns of people who were in detention prior to their return, which fell by 23% to 7,699 compared with 9,963 in the previous year
Enforced returns for both EU nationals (down 883 to 3,637) and non-EU nationals (down 1,989 to 5,000). EU nationals accounted for 42% of enforced returns throughout the year and the majority (56%) of these were Romanian and Polish nationals.
The proportion who were returned from detention has fallen from 64% in year ending March 2011.
For more detail go to: https://is.gd/oqocIq
At the end of March 2019, there were 1,839 people held in the detention estate, a third (33%) less than a year earlier. In the year ending March 2019, 24,333 individuals entered the detention estate, 8% fewer than the previous year and the lowest level since comparable records began in 2009.
Over the same period, 25,201 left the detention estate (down 8%). Over two-thirds (71%) of these were detained for less than 29 days and 4% were detained for more than 6 months. The Home Office would usually only detain someone for more than 6 months if they are a foreign national offender (FNO), or if they have subsequently claimed asylum while in detention.
Of those leaving detention, 44% received Secretary of State (SoS) bail and 42% were returned from the UK to another country. The remainder will include people granted bail by an Immigration Judge, those granted leave to enter or remain, and those leaving for other reasons (such as deaths and absconders).
For more detail go to: https://is.gd/oqocIq
Number of People Granted Asylum or Protection
The UK offered protection – in the form of grants of asylum, humanitarian protection, alternative forms of leave and resettlement – to 17,304 people in the year ending March 2019 (up 22%). This was the highest number of people granted protection in the UK in a single year since the year ending September 2003.
The Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) accounted for three-quarters (4,328) of the 5,794 refugees resettled in the UK in the year ending March 2019. Since it began in 2014, 15,977 people have been resettled under the scheme. A further 687 were resettled under the Vulnerable Children Resettlement Scheme (VCRS) over the last year.
There were 31,589 asylum applications in the UK (main applicants only) in the year ending March 2019, 18% more than the previous year but below the level seen in the year ending March 2016 during the European migration crisis.
The grant rate (percentage of initial decisions which were grants of asylum, humanitarian protection or alternative forms of leave) was 39%, compared with 30% in the previous year.For more detail go here: https://is.gd/FyDMC5
Extension of Temporary Stay in the UK
There were 189,739 main applicants granted an extension to their stay in 2018 (the latest available data by previous reason for stay). Of these: 26% were for work (49,556), 21% were for study (39,254), 43% were for family reasons (82,018), 10% were for other reasons (18,911)
There were 175,891 applications for British citizenship in the year to March 2019, 24% more than in the previous year. In the last 12 months, applications for citizenship by EU nationals increased by 35% to 55,301. EU nationals now account for 31% of all citizenship applications, compared with 12% in 2016. Applications made by non-EU nationals increased by 19% in the most recent year to 120,590, following falls in the previous 2 years.
Immigration Detainees on Hunger Strike Q1 Jan/Feb/March 2019
January February March 2019
Brook House 4 2 0
Campsfield House Closed
Colnbrook 6 2 15
Dungavel 0 0 0
Harmondsworth 13 18 24
Morton Hall 4 2 2
Tinsley House 2 2 1
Yarl's Wood 0 3 2
Source: Home Office
£2,465,579.61 Cost of Deportation Charter Flights Q1 Jan/Feb/March 2019
Thank you for your email of 8 April, in which you ask for
Total cost of Home Office Charter Flights, Q1 January/February/March 2019
Your request has been handled as a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).
We can confirm that the Home Office holds the information you have requested. The total cost of Home Office charter flights for the period January, February and March 2019 was £2,465,579.61.
Source: Home Office
11 Charter Flights (Escorts and Removals) Q1 January/February/March 2019
1. Number of males removed 312.
2. Number of females removed 15.
3. Number of escorts 893.
4. Number of flights in total 11.
Destination Number of flights Number of returnees
Albania 4 167
Pakistan 2 39
Nigeria & Ghana 2 34
Switzerland/Germany 1 30
France/Germany 1 28
Jamaica 1 29
Number of Incidents of Self-Harm In Immigration Detention Requiring Medical Treatment
Q1 January/February/March 2019
2019 January February March
Brook House 3 2 3
Campsfield House Closed Closed Closed
Colnbrook 8 8 19
Dungavel 1 0 0
Harmondsworth 6 10 8
Morton Hall 3 3 3
Tinsley House 1 0 0
Yarl's Wood (incl. STHF) 0 2 1
Larne STHF 0 0 1
Manchester STHF 0 0 0
Number of Individuals on Formal Self-Harm At Risk In Immigration Detention Q1 January/February/March 2019
January February March
Brook House 27 19 29
Campsfield House Closed Closed Closed
Colnbrook 31 26 26
Dungavel * 6 9
Harmondsworth 39 35 42
Morton Hall 33 20 23
Tinsley House 4 4 4
Yarl's Wood (incl. STHF) 14 9 11
Larne STHF 1 0 4
Manchester RSTHF 3 1 1
Data for Dungavel House IRC is unavailable for January 2019 due to an on-going issue with the supplier IT system which is currently under investigation