Last month’s High Court ruling on coronavirus and immigration detention is now available: R (Detention Action & Anor) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 732 (Admin).
Detention Action, a charity, launched a judicial review on 18 March to try to get everyone in immigration detention released during the pandemic. As an interim measure, it asked for particularly vulnerable detainees to be released. The High Court made its decision on the interim relief — no dice — on 25 March but the written judgment has taken a while to emerge.
Lady Justice Sharp records the various measures that the Home Office is taking on coronavirus and detention. Taken together, what they show is that “the Secretary of State is acting to reduce the number of persons in immigration detention, and to date those numbers have been significantly reduced”. For those who remain, “measures are being put in place to address the specific risks arising for those in closed communities such as detention centres”.
These measures, the court found, were sufficient to address the human rights concerns raised in several expert reports filed by Detention Action. While the court accepted that “the position of those in immigration detention is not without risk of serious harm”, that risk is “no different from the risk faced by the entire population”.
The judges awarded costs to the Home Office, saying that “we are not persuaded… that it was necessary to bring this matter to court” and that “sensible co-operation” would have secured the same commitments.