Only one quarter of immigration detainees able to access legal aid, according to BID survey

Just one quarter of immigration detainees were able to access legal aid, according to new research. The findings come from Bail for Immigration Detainees’s legal advice survey which found that only half of those surveyed currently had legal representation and one in five people held in Immigration Removal Centres had no legal representation at all during their detention. Pic by Darren Johnson.

‘The situation described by detainees – while hardly a surprise – underlines the bleak situation that people being held in immigration detention face,’ commented BID’s policy and research manager John Hopgood. ‘Government statistics published only last week show that almost 30,000 people were detained in the last 12 months – but less than half of those people were deported from the UK. For the other 15,000 people, their time in detention has been totally unjustified, a frustrating, often scary experience, away from their families and without the legal help and advice necessary to challenge the situation they find themselves in.’

“The attack on legal aid three years ago continues to have a devastating impact on the ability of people to access justice. People held in detention centres are among the most marginalised in society. The government detains them purely for administrative reasons, and then denies them the information and legal advice they need to challenge that detention. Hard as it is to believe, the situation is even worse for the growing number of immigration detainees inappropriately held in prisons. There, only 1 in 20 has access to any kind of independent legal advice about their immigration case.’
John Hopgood

Hopgood pointed out that the government pays out £4,000,000 in compensation for unlawfully detaining people each year. ‘Their callous disregard for the rights of detainees to have access to justice is clear from our survey,’ he said. ‘It  is completely unacceptable for anybody held in detention not to have access to legal advice. That as many as 20% of all detainees find themselves in that situation is beyond belief, and the only way to right this wrong is to ensure that legal aid is automatically available to the people who need it the most.’

About Jon Robins

Jon is a journalist and has written about the law and justice for the national papers and specialist press for more than 15 years. Jon is a visiting journalism lecturer at Winchester University, a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln and patron of Hackney Community Law Centre. He has won the Bar Council’s legal reporter of the year award twice (2015 and 2005). Jon is editor and co-founder of LegalVoice

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *