The Home Office determines who will be detained for immigration reasons, and there is a patchwork of laws that applies. Their decision making must adhere to well established laws, procedural rules and policies in terms of who can be detained, on what grounds, and in what conditions. These legal rules are not always lawfully applied. Much of the decision making is delegated and some of it sub-contracted to private companies.
Significant failings have also been identified in the conditions of detention, particularly where detainees are held by private contractors operating on behalf of the State under delegated functions.
Anyone who is or has been held unlawfully – or whose rights have been abused while they are in custody – has the right to seek a legal remedy.
Hickman & Rose are experts in challenging unlawful detention decisions, and decisions relating to the conditions under which detainees are held (including under the Equality Act).
Where immigration detainees have died in custody, their families require legal representation to navigate the complex issues relating to the layers of investigation and inquest proceedings. Legal aid is often available (with a waiver of the means test) where arguably state agents may have caused or contributed to a death on custody.
One of our recent cases includes the 2020 inquest into the death of Prince Kwabena Fosu who died in Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre in October 2012. His conditions of detention were starkly exposed during the inquest proceedings. The jury concluded that Prince lacked the mental capacity to make rational or informed decisions for himself and that he died a sudden death following hypothermia, dehydration and malnourishment with psychotic illness. He was found dead naked, alone and emaciated in a filthy segregation cell. The inquest jury found a gross failure across all agencies to recognise the need for and provide appropriate care to a person who was unable to look after himself or change his circumstances. Prince died in plain sight and all agencies charged with his welfare failed to look after his welfare. We are expert at advising and acting in such inquests and associated civil remedies.
Anyone who has been subjected to unlawful detention has the right to claim damages from the Home Office and/or its private contractors for their loss of liberty and suffering.
Anyone considering a claim for damages is advised to seek expert legal advice.
It is an unfortunate fact that violent assaults are not uncommon in detention facilities. These can occur in variety of ways. Injuries can happen at the hands of staff, other detainees, during riotous disorder and both in, and during transport to and from, custody. We have years of experience and expertise in advising and litigating in all of these types of claims relating to physical and psychological harm and injuries, and sexual violation inflicted while in custody.
We are not immigration lawyers so are unable to give advice on matters relating to immigration status.