New research by Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) on detention during the pandemic “lays bare a catalogue of failings”, the charity says.
With the authorities insisting on keeping detention centres open despite health concerns, BID has been working on individual immigration bail applications. It represented 55 people between 23 March (the start of lockdown) and 1 May, 52 of whom were released — a success rate of 95%.
BID says that analysis of 42 of the successful cases undermines the Home Office justification for keeping people locked up.
The department says that most of those still in detention have committed a criminal offence and have been refused release based on the “risk of harm” to the public. But BID found that in only nine of the 42 cases did officials alleged that the person presented a high risk of harm. In the majority of cases, they simply pointed to the person’s record and presented no evidence about future risk.
Detention is only supposed to be used where the person’s removal from the UK is imminent. Travel restrictions are making this impossible, but the Home Office is routinely ignoring this inconvenient fact: in 32 of the 42 cases examined, the department’s opposition to bail made no mention of travel restrictions whatever.
BID’s report concludes:
it is clear that Home Office use of detention during this period does not appear to be justified in the findings of the independent courts.
The charity’s director, Celia Clarke, said “this research lays bare a catalogue of failings in the Home Office’s approach to detention decision-making”.