Thousands of UK Immigrants Held Without Representation
Half of immigrants held in UK detention centers are not being given access to legal representation, a charity has found.
According to Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) statistics showed that almost 30,000 people were detained in the last 12 months and of those 15,000 people were held unnecessarily “without the legal help and advice necessary to challenge the situation they find themselves in.”
Cuts in legal aid have “reduced the estimated number receiving legal help from 80 per cent to 50 per cent, meaning that thousands of people waiting to find out if they will be granted the right to remain in the UK are doing so without any legal help at all,” according to an article in the Independent.
Bid’s Legal Advice Survey said 1 in 5 people held have never had legal representation during their detention.
BID’s Policy and Research Manage John Hopgood said: “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.”
BID works as an independent charity with asylum seekers and migrants in removal centres and prisons to challenge immigration detention in the UK.
Mr Hopgood added: “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.”