Half of immigration detainees denied legal representation
Only half of all immigration detainees have a lawyer compared to eight out of 10 prior to the 2013 legal aid cuts. In its annual survey, the charity Bail for Immigration Detainees spoke to 103 detainees being held in removal centres and found that, of the 50% of detainees held in detention that had legal representatives, only 61% had a publicly funded legal aid solicitor.
The situation was markedly worse for detainees held in prisons under immigration powers. Out of 50 detainees who had moved from prison to detention, only three had received immigration advice from a solicitor while in prison.
In 2012, immediately before the implementation of the legal aid cuts under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act, BID reported that almost eight out of 10 (79%) of those held in immigration detention had a legal representative; and three-quarters were funded by legal aid. Today, less than a third have a representative funded by legal aid. According to BID, almost six out of 10 detainees without a legal representative (57%) cited money as the main reason they were unable to get legal assistance.
‘These results once again highlight the scale of injustice in our immigration detention system,’ comments Celia Clarke, BID’s director. ‘It is an outrage that 50% of detainees do not have a legal representative. Not only does the Home Office lock individuals up without trial, separating families and damaging vulnerable people, detainees are denied the legal representation that would enable them to challenge these decisions.’
Almost three quarters of detainees (74%) had worked on their own immigration cases and a similar proportion (73%) complained that they could not access online help and in particular Home Office and other government sites were blocked as well as solicitors’ and BID’s sites.
Published June 25, 2018