Migrants Organise is funded by the Strategic Legal Fund to research the immigration bail regime under the Immigration Act 2016, in particular the prevalence of reporting conditions and how they impact on vulnerable migrants. In order to produce this research, we collated case studies through our Community Programme and analysed them to identify key areas of concerns. We also undertook legal research on relevant legislation, Home Office policies and case law and a series of requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (‘FOI requests’).
We are pleased to publish the final report, which you can read here. Read on for a summary of the findings, and to find out more. Guidance for practitioners and caseworkers will also be published in due course – watch this space!
What is Immigration Bail?
The Immigration Act 2016 replaced the bail from immigration detention and temporary admission with a new immigration bail regime. The Secretary of State is granted the power to grant immigration bail if a person is detained or liable to be detained. When someone is granted bail, the Act requires at least one condition to be imposed, such as reporting, a work or study restriction or electronic tagging. The Act also allows for “such other conditions as the person granting the immigration bail thinks fit.”
One of the most common conditions imposed is a reporting condition, whereby a migrant is required to sign-in at a Home Office reporting centre on a specified regular basis. Presently, there are only 14 reporting centres throughout the UK. Our FOI requests reveal:
- As of 13 September 2019, 76.4% of migrants who are put on bail conditions (equal to more than 83,000 individuals) are asked to report.
- In 2018, the rate of these individuals ‘absconding’, i.e. failing to report was 3%.
- There are 456 children currently subject to a reporting condition, and 97 of them are asylum seekers.
- There is no Equality Impact Assessment or Policy Equality Statement relating to the Immigration Act 2016.
- Reporting conditions often place an unreasonable physical, psychological and/or financial burden on the migrant concerned. They can are imposed on extremely vulnerable individuals, including: unaccompanied children and young migrants, those with mental and/or physical disabilities, and victims of torture and trafficking.
- Many people face degrading and discriminatory treatment at the reporting centre. Migrants Organise has worked with many individuals who complain of staff being rude and unpleasant during reporting. For example, individuals with pending human rights or asylum submissions have been asked to leave the UK or have received criticism of their personal appearance. Migrants also often have to queue for hours outside the reporting centre, without access to a toilet or shelter from the weather. If they leave the queue to use a toilet, they have to join rejoin at the back of the line.
- There is no overarching framework by which bail conditions are selected, taking into account the individual’s specific circumstances and particular vulnerabilities. Instead, the current policy adopts a condition-specific approach to respond to specific challenges and/or campaigns. For instance, there is now detailed guidance on when no-study condition should be imposed. As a result, reporting conditions are often imposed apparently without any regard to less burdensome alternatives.
- A further issue is that inappropriate reporting conditions are also often imposed on migrants. Home Office policy is often unclear and does not provide adequate guidance for decision makers to safeguard migrants who are subject to a reporting condition:
- The frequency of reporting. Migrants Organise has worked with an individual who was asked to report every day at 8 am, despite being physically disabled. This obviously imposes a heavy physical burden on the individual, in addition to giving the impression that they are being punished. Indeed, another case studies relates to a disabled victim of trafficking who was told by a Home Office employee that his reporting frequency was increased as punishment for failing to answer re-documentation interview questions properly.
- The distance between the migrant’s accommodation and the reporting centre. One individual was required to report at Eaton House, Hounslow, despite living in Hertfordshire, and receiving NASS subsistence allowance. Every time she went to report, she had to spend £21.80 for her train travel, which amounted to almost 60% of her weekly allowance. The option for a migrant to report somewhere other than a reporting centre (for example at a local police station, as was common under the previous system) is rarely made available under the current reporting system. The option for the Home Office to cover transport costs is available but rarely used and difficult to obtain. Migrants who are required to report will almost always be assigned to one of just 14 reporting centres for the entirety of the United Kingdom. In Scotland, for example, there is a single reporting centre located in Glasgow.
- Lastly there is also a lack of clarity on how to challenge or vary a reporting condition. Requests to this effect are often ignored by the Home Office and, if not, the decision is often provided orally making it difficult to challenge.
Migrants Organise will continue this work by carrying out strategic case and campaign work to challenge the current immigration bail and reporting condition regime.
Should you have any specific cases relating to reporting conditions which you would like to discuss, or if you have any queries about our research and work, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.