Thursday, 6 October 2011

In UK, immigration detainees ‘losing faith in the legal system’

DoverImage by GazzaS via Flickr
Source: The Detention Forum

Dover Detainee Visitor Group (DDVG) has recently published an insightful report on how and why immigration detainees are finding it increasingly more difficult to access to legal advice and representation, particularly since the introduction of the exclusive contracts system by the Legal Services Commission. The report calls on the Legal Services Commission not to renew the exclusive contracts for a second year, and to allow the choice of a legal aid representative to people in detention.

The report notes that a large number of detainees DDVG are in touch with are not happy with the way the current legal advice provision is working. It also contains a number of detailed case studies which illustrate not just the problems that the immigration detainees faced but also why many of them found it difficult to complain about them.

Victor Fiorini who wrote the report said:
“Detainees are losing faith in the legal system and unfortunately it is becoming increasingly difficult to encourage them to stand up for what is rightfully theirs. NGOs such as ours need to keep a close eye on this situation and to systematically tackle the injustices that detainees are facing”.
While the report’s evidence comes solely from Dover Immigration Removal Centre, it is likely that the similar problems are experienced across the entire detention estate. Currently there are 11 immigration removal centres across the UK, which provide a total of 3,341 bed spaces. As of 30 June 2011, there were 2,596 people in these immigration removal centres. Of those, 217 people have been in detention longer than 12 months.

Report on the DDA Legal Surgeries at Dover IRC
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