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Calls for release of UK’s Immigration detainees

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Calls for release of UK’s Immigration detainees

On Saturday 04 April, the Government announced that a number of prisoners are to be temporarily released from jail. Up to 4,000 low-risk offenders in England and Wales will be released in stages in an attempt to curb the spread of Covid-19. The individuals will be electronically tagged and released on licence with the possibility of recall if there are any causes for concern. High risk offenders and those who have not served at least half of their sentence will not be eligible. Nor will individuals who have been convicted of coronavirus related offences such as coughing at emergency workers.

This comes after 88 prisoners have already tested positive for the virus, 3 have died and 15 staff members have also tested positive. Cases have also been reported within The UK’s Immigration removal centres (IRCs) and Saturday’s announcement from the Government prompted groups such as Medical Justice UK and Bail for Immigration Detainees to call for the release of those currently in Immigration detention. Prior to the announcement, Labour MP Dianne Abbott wrote to the Home Secretary urging her to consider similar measures for immigration detainees as are being planned for low-risk prisoners.

Immigration Detention Centres

It is worth noting that the Home Office has already taken some steps to reduce the number of immigration detainees. In the week beginning 16 March, over 300 individuals were released from detention and the total population of the UK’s IRCs is down from around 1,200 in January to roughly 750 at the start of April. However, last month, the high court rejected an urgent legal challenge from Detention Action calling for the release of hundreds of individuals who are either vulnerable due to particular health conditions, or who cannot be removed because of travel restrictions.

Some measures have been taken to make IRCs safer such as enhanced screening, introduction of social spacing in communal areas and from 26 March, a moratorium on visitors. However, some concerning issues have been raised. Despite a woman testing positive for coronavirus at Yarl’s Wood IRC on 22 March, it has been reported that five new detainees are now being housed at the centre. The sanitary conditions at Yarl’s Wood are reportedly poor and it is believed that many detainees have underlying health conditions. Unsurprisingly, detainees do not feel safe within the walls of the UK’s IRCs.

How can OTS Solicitors help?

Here at OTS Solicitors we have heard from numerous detainees and even more friends and family members who are concerned for their loved one’s welfare. Although we are not able to visit in-person we are on hand to help and can arrange a telephone or online consultation to advise on bail. The current uncertainty regarding travel restrictions can have an impact on the likely imminence of removal and this has contributed to the high level of success we are currently experiencing in applications for immigration bail.

Online Immigration solicitors

If you or a loved one are currently being held in immigration detention the specialist Immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors are here to help. Call us on 0203 959 9123, email us at or compete our online enquiry form to arrange a video conference, Skype or telephone appointment.

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