Category Archives: Immigration
Nearly 1,500 foreign prisoners are being held in British jails beyond the term of their sentence, it has emerged.
A total of 547 foreign offenders are being held in prisons after their sentences have ended, while a further 919 are in immigration removal centres, immigration minister Mark Harper revealed.
Mr Harper, who was responding to a parliamentary question by Conservative MP Priti Patel, could not confirm how long the prisoners had been held.
Prime Minister David Cameron pledged nearly two years ago to put an end to agreements that mean foreign offenders cannot be returned home without their consent.
In April 2010, there were 701 foreign offenders detailed in jail after their sentence, which fell to 516 in April 2011 but rose again to 552 in the same month in 2012, the figures revealed.
The number of people held in immigration detention centres after completing a prison sentence has fallen from 1,213 in April 2010 to 812 in April 2012.
A UK Border Agency spokesman said: “We will always detain foreign criminals awaiting deportation if they pose a risk to the public.
“Those who abuse the privilege of coming to the UK by breaking our laws should be removed at the earliest opportunity and we are speeding up the deportation process.
“Deportation can be delayed for many reasons, including human rights challenges and a lack of co-operation by the offender. This can lengthen the period of time an individual spends in immigration detention.”
Illegal immigrants have injured five officers during a riot at a Lincolnshire detention centre, according to border officials.
Up to 40 detainees were involved in the incident at Morton Hall immigration removal centre in Swinderby which saw one detainee taken to hospital and led to 12 others being transferred to other centres.
A UK Border Agency (UKBA) spokesman said: “All our Immigration Removal Centres are overseen by an Independent Monitoring Board.
“Morton Hall is a safe place for detainees and staff. We will not tolerate any behaviour which might put anyone at risk of harm.”
Staff were injured on December 30, the UKBA said, while up to 50 detainees were also involved in a protest on Christmas Day, during which no-one was injured.
Both incidents were brought under control within an hour.
Morton Hall, a former women’s prison, was reopened as an immigration removal centre in 2011 after a £6 million refit. It holds up to 392 foreign national offenders, failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants.
The UKBA’s website states that inmates at the all-male centre have access to 24-hour medical services, a dentist, a “well-stocked” library with “a wide array of reading material in different languages as well as DVDs and CDs”.
There are also indoor badminton, soft tennis, volleyball and basketball courts.
In September last year, 18 asylum seekers went on hunger strike at Morton Hall because they did not want to be sent back to Afghanistan.
The High Court has ruled that a foreign national jailed for 12 months for robbery is entitled to damages because he was detained too long while attempts were made to deport him.
A judge ruled Aziz Lamari, an Algerian citizen, should have been released last month.
By then it was clear there was no reasonable likelihood of deportation taking place within a reasonable time, and Lamari was suffering from mental illness “driven” by his detention, said the judge.
The Home Secretary was also found guilty of contempt of court because her department failed to release Lamari after it eventually accepted he should no longer be in detention and gave an undertaking to release him into suitable accommodation.
The 22-year-old Algerian national now joins a growing number of foreign criminals awarded compensation after being held too long under immigration rules pending attempts to deport.
Deputy High Court judge Barry Cotter QC said Lamari was detained after his robbery sentence came to an end in December 2010 and his deportation had been ordered.
By the time the High Court began hearing his case in May he had been held for over 17 months.
The judge said it was not in dispute that he had attempted suicide or serious harm on at least four occasions since April 2011.
Home Office lawyers argued detention before removal was clearly reasonable because of his “remarkable history of absconding and serious offending” and the risk of him re-offending.
In the nine months between July 2009 and April 2010 he was reported to have absconded three times, said Judge Cotter.
He also fled the country, was returned and was then convicted twice for offences of exposure, and later of robbery at Wood Green Crown Court in north London.
The judge said Lamari first arrived in the UK in July 2009 and was arrested within days and applied for asylum.
He was moved to Liverpool but absconded and was arrested in Cambridgeshire on August 13 after being found in the back of a lorry with three other people.
He absconded again and was arrested in Rotterdam in Holland and returned to England to have his asylum claim dealt with in the UK.
Judge Cotter said he absconded a third time in September 2009, and failed to turn up for an asylum interview a month later.
Two years later, in September 2011, he was diagnosed as having a “suicidal ideation” after making a serious suicide attempt and receiving treatment at Hillingdon hospital, north-west London.
When examined by a consultant psychiatrist in April 2012, soon after further suicide attempts, he was further diagnosed as suffering from a mixed anxiety-depressive disorder “driven” by his indefinite detention.
The judge said immigration case law stated the Home Secretary could only hold a person pending deportation for a reasonable period.
If it became clear that deportation could not take place within a reasonable period the power of detention should not be used.
Problems had arisen over getting Lamari sent back to Algeria, and it had now become clear that the Home Secretary was “effectively powerless to progress matters”.
The judge said that by early September 2011 Lamari had been diagnosed as mentally ill and “there was a clear risk that the claimant would quite quickly deteriorate” as detention was “the driving factor of the mental condition”.
He was “a young man now broken by the experience of custody” who was desperate to avoid further detention.
The judge ruled detention could no longer be justified after May this year, after the latest medical reports had been received and it became clear there was no realistic prospect of him being removed within a reasonable timeframe.
He said Lamari should have been released from detention, subject to suitable arrangements, by May 23 at the latest and was entitled to damages for the subsequent period of unlawful detention.
The judge ordered that the amount of damages should now be assessed, if not agreed, by the Queen’s bench division of the High Court.
A UK Border Agency spokesman said an urgent review of the Lamari case was taking place.
The spokesman said: “Aziz Lamari is a failed asylum seeker who had served custodial sentences for serious offences.
“He was held in immigration detention awaiting removal to Algeria and we accept that he was not released on the date set by the court, which resulted in today’s judgment.
“We are reviewing how this happened urgently.”
A sick asylum seeker was subjected to degrading and inhuman treatment by UK immigration authorities, a High Court judge said today.
Mr Justice Singh also ruled that Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May had introduced an “unlawful” policy relating to the detention of people with mental illness.
The judge said the asylum seeker, a 34-year-old Nigerian who “overstayed” after entering the UK on a six-month visitor visa in 2005, was “unlawfully detained” for more than six months.
He concluded that the time Home Office officials took to transfer the man from an Immigration Removal Centre to hospital had been “manifestly unreasonable and unlawful” and said Mrs May had “acted irrationally”.
Mr Justice Singh said the man’s human rights had been breached and he was entitled to damages, which would be decided at a future court hearing if agreement could not be reached.
The judge granted an application for “judicial review” after the man, who was not named, took legal action against Mrs May.
He handed down a written ruling today after a hearing at the High Court in London in March.
A psychiatrist had “strongly suspected” that the man, who said he settled in Newcastle Upon Tyne after arriving in England, was “suffering from a psychotic illness” and his behaviour was “unlikely to be deliberate”, the judge was told.
The man had drunk “flushed toilet water”, had “strange dreams” and “allusions to ‘strange pastors’ (maybe witch doctors)”, may have been “involved in demonic or witchcraft in Nigeria” and was said to “worship voodoo”, the judge heard.
Mr Justice Singh said the man – born on Christmas Day 1977 – had entered the UK on a visitor visa in 2005 and “overstayed”.
In 2007, he had applied for a European Economic Area residence card on the “basis of an alleged marriage to a German national” but his application was refused for “lack of sufficient evidence”.
In March 2009 he had applied for asylum – while on remand in custody after being arrested on suspicion of “being concerned in the supply of cannabis”.
Three days later he had been convicted of the charge – at Newcastle Crown Court – and in July 2009 given a 14-month prison term.
That sentence had triggered an “automatic deportation” provision.
In September 2009, he had been detained at an immigration removal centre, after being released from his sentence and transferred from prison.
In January 2010, a psychiatrist recommended a transfer from the immigration removal centre to a mental hospital for “assessment and treatment”.
In July 2010, he had been admitted to hospital.
In November 2010, he had been returned to an immigration removal centre.
In December 2010, he was released on bail by a judge.
Mr Justice Singh said the man started to “experience psychiatric problems” in prison.
In August 2009 a “mental health term” had noted the “strange dreams”, “voodoo worship” plus fasting on “religious grounds”. In September 2009 he had been seen drinking toilet water.
In January 2010, a psychiatrist had produced a report saying “I strongly suspect he is suffering from a psychotic illness” and recommended a move to a “suitable Mental Health Unit”. The doctor had added: “… his behaviour in my opinion is unlikely to be deliberate.”
The man had been transferred to hospital in July 2010 and hospital staff noted that he was “expressing paranoid delusions”, “self-neglecting” and had “bizarre behaviour with persecutory delusions”.
In October 2010, lawyers began legal proceedings on the man’s behalf.
In November 2010, he was transferred back to an immigration removal centre “without notice”.
In December 2010, a judge granted bail after a psychiatrist instructed by the man’s lawyers expressed “serious concerns as a matter or urgency”.
Mr Justice Singh granted the application for judicial review and concluded that:
:: The man had been unlawfully detained from February 1 to July 5, 2010 and from November 5 to December 15, 2010.
:: The length of time it took to secure the man’s transfer to hospital between February 1 and July 5, 2010 was “manifestly unreasonable and unlawful”.
:: “The circumstances of the claimant’s detention were unlawful” and in breach of human rights legislation.
“From the time when (the psychiatrist) made the recommendation that he did on 21 January 2010, the (Home Secretary) had a duty to take reasonable steps to secure the claimant’s transfer to a hospital for appropriate assessment and treatment and to do so reasonably expeditiously,” said the judge.
“On any view, the delay of over five months in this case was manifestly unreasonable.”
The judge said forcing the man to return to an immigration removal centre in November 2010 had been in breach of human rights legislation.
“By the time of his compulsory return to an immigration removal centre it was known that the claimant had a severe mental illness,” said the judge.
“To force the claimant to return to and stay in immigration removal centre detention in November and December 2010 was at least degrading treatment and, if it were necessary to say so, inhuman treatment.”
Mr Justice Singh said the wording of a Home Office detention policy changed in August 2010.
The policy had said that among those “normally considered suitable for detention in only very exceptional circumstances” were “the mentally ill”.
Wording was changed to: “Those suffering serious mental illness which cannot be satisfactorily managed within detention.”
Mr Justice Singh said there were “serious concerns” about the impact the new wording may have on mentally ill people and people from minority ethnic communities, since immigration detention affected foreign nationals.
The judge concluded there had been a “change in at least the stated policy” and added: “The policy introduced on 26 August 2010 in relation to detention of people with mental illness was unlawful in breach of the (Home Secretary’s) duties under … the Race Relations Act 1976 and … the Disability Discrimination Act 2005″.
Mr Justice Singh said he agreed with the man’s lawyers when they argued that, in any event, the man “clearly had a serious mental illness” which could not be managed in an immigration removal centre.
He concluded that Mrs May had “acted irrationally”.
The man’s solicitor, Hamish Arnott of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, said after the ruling: “It is shocking that the Home Secretary has reacted with disinterest to two previous court findings that immigration detainees with mental illnesses were subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment.
“This judgment will now require her to confront this issue and carry out a proper review of the policy to ensure that this does not occur again.”
A UK Border Agency spokesman said later: “We are carefully considering this ruling.
“We will always seek to remove any foreign national convicted of a serious crime, and 4,500 foreign national offenders were removed last year.
“Detention can be a necessary part of the removal process in order to protect the public.”