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Wednesday, 1 December 2010

In UK, new restrictions on legal support for asylum detainees

Administrative burden in Bucharest (Rumania)Image via Wikipedia
By Russell Blakely, Wilson Solicitors LLP

This is for NGOs/people, who might be trying to help clients/contacts in Immigration Removal Centres.

From 15.11.10, there is exclusive contracting for detention centres. This means that a person in a detention centre can - generally speaking - only be represented for immigration/asylum Legal Help and CLR by a firm which has a contract for the specific detention centre.

There are nine detention centres covered by exclusive contracts: Haslar, Harmondsworth, Dover, Yarls Wood, Tinsley House, Lindholme, Campsfield, Colnbrook, and Brook House.

In each centre there are two on-site surgeries each week and detainees need to book themselves in to attend the surgery. Each detention centre has its own method for doing this (eg through the library). Whichever provider is on the rota for the particular day can spend 30 minutes with the client to assess the merits of doing further work. If the merits test is passed the provider must take the client on and continue to represent under Legal Help in respect to detention issues until the client is released from detention or removed from the UK. In respect to the substantive immigration issue they must represent so long as the sufficient benefit or CLR merits test is met - if neither are met they must still continue to represent in respect to detention issues.

Detainees can also refer themselves direct to a provider who has a contract for the centre outside of the surgeries although the provider can refuse instructions in this circumstance if they do not have capacity (they are only obliged to take on clients seen at a surgery).

If you come across clients who are unhappy with the advice they have received or have been refused legal advice on the merits you need to take this up direct with the provider rather than trying to find a new provider.
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