More than half of deportations from the UK are called off and, of that number, one third are cancelled because of new legal arguments. According to figures revealed through a freedom of information request made by the Independent, of 24,674 removal directions issued last year, 15,200 were cancelled. More than two-thirds were called off within a week of the scheduled removal and 45% within just one day. The most common reason for cancellation was because legal representations had been submitted (34%).
Celia Clarke, director of the legal charity Bail for Immigration Detainees said that the ‘shocking figures confirm BID’s experience that people are casually and routinely detained solely for the convenience of the Home Office’. ‘That 34% of removals were cancelled because people submitted legal challenges exposes the very real problems that people face,’ she commented. ‘We have had clients routinely handed immigration decisions that carry a right of appeal at the point of detention.’
According to BID’s annual survey, almost half of immigration detainees do not have access to a lawyer. Prior to the 2013 legal aid cuts under the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO), eight of 10 people in immigration removal centres had lawyers.
In the group’s latest survey, the group spoke to 76 detainees held in Immigration Removal Centres and found that half of detainees did not have a legal representative, and of that number, about half had a legal aid solicitor.
‘Although our survey shows how extremely difficult it is for people to get legal representation, the lucky ones are able to stop their removal and get released from detention. Judicial oversight of decisions to detain is long overdue,’ Clarke said.