UKBA have changed their removals policy, and not in a nice way. The announcement letter to stakeholders is available here and does not really tell half the story. In essence, the 72 hour notice period for removals is to be waived in a wide range of cases and no-notice removals will become more widespread. This prevents access to a lawyer or the courts, basically, and it means that unlawful (why we don’t just say illegal still escapes me) removals can go ahead unchallenged.
Irritatingly, the new policy allegedly becomes effective on 11 January 2010, but in the meantime the old policy has been removed from the UKBA website and only the new one is available.
UKBA have been secretly trialling no-notice removals over the last year or so. There have been several cases (I previously posted about one of them) that have exposed the existence of secret policy exceptions to the normal rule that all removees receive at least 72 hours notice. Indeed, it is these cases that for Free Movement and perhaps others provided final confirmation that UKBA are institutionally unlawful, in the sense that there is a pervasive lack of respect for the rule of law and an ingrained culture of acting contrary to the requirements of law.
The new policy is, of course, couched in the weasely words and siren sounds one comes to expect of UKBA press releases and policy documents. The section that most sticks in the throat (there is competition) is about a so-called ‘best interests’ policy for not giving children any notice of their impending removal. Apparently it is in their best interests only to find out when they rock up at the airport. The modern UKBA tendency to dress up way they want to do as what they should do in the best interests of children is a disgraceful development.
ILPA is furious about the changes, which have not been the subject of any consultation despite numerous attempts by ILPA to meet with UKBA about this issue. I’ve never seen such a strongly worded and genuinely angry letter from the organisation.