I have started to think about the Herculean (perhaps Sisyphean a better analogy? – ed.) task of updating the HJT Immigration Manual, something I do at least once per year. This year there is a LOT to change, and I’m not looking forward to it, I have to say. This blog is helpful in flagging up all or most of the changes that need to be included, but I have realised that there are a few things that slipped under my radar for one reason or another. One of these, and quite an important one, is the new bail guidance that was issued by the new President of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal (do they even make business cards that long?), Michael Clements on 11 July 2011.
Incidentally, I’ve updated the ‘useful links‘ page to include this.
The guidance starts with a useful call to arms at paragraph 1:
“The right to liberty is a fundamental right enjoyed by all people in the United Kingdom, whether British citizens or subject to immigration control.”
This is something civil servants at the UK Border Agency seem to have forgotten, and unfortunately at times it feels like some judges need reminding of it too. One has the feeling in many bail hearings that the onus lies with the detainee to show they should be released rather than the onus lying on the Home Office to justify detention.
Paragraph 18 is worth quoting as well:
“…it is generally accepted that detention for three months would be considered a substantial period of time and six months a long period. Imperative considerations of public safety may be necessary to justify detention in excess of six months.”
The guidance includes a section on bail in principle, whereby bail might be granted in principle but release is dependent on certain information being provided to the Immigration Judge. This might arise, for example, where an address for release needs to be provided or information provided by a surety. Other features of the guidance to highlight include the desire to avoid hearings for bail condition variations and the restrictions to be imposed on hearings where a previous bail application was refused in the last 28 days and the fresh application contains no new evidence and no new ground. In these cases the hearing will be shortened as will the opportunity for the applicant to confer with his or her legal representative over the video link before the hearing.
The guidance is essential reading for anyone involved in bail applications. While on the subject, I think it is worth giving a plug for the latest edition of Immigration Detention: A Handbook for Visitors, by AVID (the Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees), available for £10 from the AVID website:
“The AVID Handbook for Visitors is as a complete guide to immigration detention in the UK and will therefore be a useful resource for all volunteers and anyone interested in immigration detention or providing support to this vulnerable group.
It contains information on an extensive range of issues including: asylum law and policy; current detention policy and practice in the UK; legal and medical issues in detention; supporting detainees; how to get out of detention and much more. There are also useful tips and tools to support volunteers, and guidance to help with any difficult issues that may arise while visiting or supporting an immigration detainee, such as removal. New material has been added, including guidance on supporting vulnerable people in detention such as trafficked persons. A directory gives details of all removal centres, visitors groups and support organizations. As such it is essential reading for all volunteer visitors as well as organizations providing support, advice and advocacy to anyone affected by immigration detention.”