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“It’s not our problem now”

So, the other day I was doing a Bail for Immigration Detainees case out at Hatton Cross. These are seldom cheery affairs as it involves all of the misery of Hatton Cross and long term immigration detention but none of the financial recompense. It reflects rather badly on me that I usually adopt a wounded air of martyrdom the night before.

The client had been detained for over a year in immigration detention and this was his third bail application since September

Razor Wire by Derek Bridges
Razor Wire by Derek Bridges

Despite the fact it was very obvious that the client was not going to be removed for some time to come, if ever, because his country’s embassy was simply uninterested in providing a travel document for him, I was pessimistic about the prospects of winning. It is hard getting many immigration judges to take such cases seriously despite the loss of human liberty involved.

Bail was granted, happily.

Perhaps sensing something amiss, the judge pointedly said that we should ensure the client reached his bail address in a distant city over two hours away by train from central London. This bit of the process might as well be done by magic fairies for all I knew. After all these years I still had no idea how on earth a released client would actually physically reach their distant bail address.

Unusually, I went back with the client to the detention suite. It was immediately apparent that there was a problem:

Initially the security guards took the line was that it would be ‘against the law’ to let him travel back with them in their van. This soon morphed into not being insured to take him back. A call to their HQ entrenched their position. There was simply no budging and the informal motto of private contractors everywhere were duly uttered:

It was very much the client’s problem, though. He was being abandoned at Hatton Cross with no money, no means of transport and a bunch of very heavy possessions he could not carry alone. It felt like it was also my problem, having gotten him into this predicament:

One of the guards was kind enough to help us carry them out of the building. Unlike the supervisor, he could see that the situation was unacceptable.

The client did eventually make it to the bail address, thankfully. But no thanks to the jobsworth private security contractors, who it would seem had forgotten to bring a travel warrant and would not admit to any mistake or put things right.

BID_logo_without_wordsBail for Immigration Detainees need all the help they can get. You can get information about volunteering here. Barristers and solicitors can join the volunteer rota for representing BID clients. It isn’t cheery but it is important.

Colin Yeo
Colin Yeo A barrister specialising in UK immigration law at Garden Court Chambers in London, I have been practising in immigration law for 15 years. I am passionate about immigration law and founded and edit the Free Movement immigration law blog.

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