Detention and Friendship: Knowing you inside (and) out

This year, the theme of Unlocking Detention is ‘friends and families’ and in this (very) special #Unlocked16 recording, Kasonga from Freed Voices interviews his old friend, Harsha, about the impact his detention had on him. In doing so, they offer a rare insight into the (all too often unreported) ‘ripple affect’ of indefinite detention and the way this traumatic experience can have tragic consequences beyond the individual detained; the stigma of talking about detention, even among loved ones; and the vitality and strength that comes with solidarity and support.

Please do share the audio widely!
 

What does detention mean to you?

Unlocking Detention is about having a conversation, and making connections between those in, at risk of, or recovering from detention; and the public, allies, activists who we need to be part of the campaign for change.
Each year we have a different visual action to encourage these connections, and this year we’re asking people to draw a picture to answer the question “What does detention mean to you?”.
We’ve already had brilliant responses – some very artistic, some raw and direct.  Why not add yours?  Tweet your picture to @detentionforum and/or use the hashtag #Unlocked16.

We’ve also had contributions from people who are currently detained, and people who have experienced detention in the past.
This is by ‘E’ who is detained at the moment, in his fourth month of indefinite detention.
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This is by Julio, who though now released, was detained for six months:
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By Mohamed, detained for four months:
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And by Justice, detained for 7 months:
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Live Q and A with Jon, detained in Brook House

This week Unlocking Detention has been ‘visiting’ Brook and Tinsley Houses, respectively. Together they make up the Gatwick site of detention, situated roughly 200 metres from the main runway at Gatwick Airport. On Friday afternoon, Ben from Detention Action conducted a live Twitter Q&A with Jon, whose detention in Brook House stood at 18 months and counting…


To kick off, a huge shout-out to the Gatwick Detainee Welfare Group (GDWG), who support individuals detained in Brook and Tinsley House:


The first question came from Sam Grant, Campaigns Manager at Rene Cassin:


Another question from Scottish Detainee Visitors illuminated the central theme of this year’s Unlocking Detention tour: the impact of detention on those immediate relationships that shape who we are – family and loved ones.


Next we had a series of questions on the vitality of visitor-groups:


Always nice to see people following #Unlocked16 (and the live Q&As in particular) from afar…


This week also featured several questions about the physical and sensorial reality of detention – what it looks like, smells like, sounds like, how it feels
 


Towards the end of the Q&A, questions turned to the political reality that frames detention in the UK, and how Jon and others within detention think it should change:


And to close proceedings, Jon spoke out about the links between Britain’s historical legacy of oppression and the routine indefinite detention of migrants today:

The hidden, human reality of indefinite detention

By James Wilson,  director of Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group
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Imagine being in prison but not held for a crime, counting up the days since you were detained but never able to count down to release, probably entitled only to 30 minutes of free legal advice which will conclude with the solicitor telling you that there is nothing they can do.  In the UK. In 2016.

Coming home

I started work at Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group (GDWG) four months ago and in some ways it felt like coming home.  I’d worked in London for the past ten years – and still live there – but I grew up in a village in the lush Mid Sussex countryside about eight miles from Gatwick.  Many of my and my wife’s families live across Sussex.  I’ve worked with refugees and asylum seekers throughout my career, but working in Crawley has opened up conversations about my work with extended family and friends locally. They may not have been necessarily greatly sympathetic to detainees, but more commonly still haven’t known the detention centres at Gatwick were even there – why would you?  My dad retired after 40 years running his own freight business at Gatwick at the same time I was starting work across town; he knows the airport like the back of his hand but didn’t know about the centres.
There’s nothing I’d rather be doing than this, but I’d much prefer that we didn’t have to do it at all.
Incongruously, a few days before I was interviewed by GDWG, I went on an escape-from-a-locked-room experience organised for my brother’s birthday.  For those who have not heard of these yet, stay tuned…I believe they are proliferating around the UK at a rate of knots; any premises not already a branch of a coffee chain will be considered for a locked room experience.  The basic idea is straightforward: you and your group are trapped in a room and have to work together to escape from it.  Each room comes with its own scenario (a scientist has been kidnapped, a treasure map has been hidden) and a series of clues leads round the room until you eventually uncover some keys or another means of escape.  Reassuringly there is  always access to escape if you wish and a clock counting down until the time of eventual release if your ingenuity and team work has failed you.
Not all locked rooms have these soothing features.

A hidden reality

The UK is the only country in Europe that detains people indefinitely for immigration purposes. The detention centres are called ‘immigration removal centres (IRCs)’ but only 50% of those detained leave the UK on eventual ‘release’; the other half are released back to the UK, surely raising questions about the purpose of the IRCs regardless of one’s politics.  While the average stay in IRCs may be relatively short, detainees being held for months is common, and being held for years not rare enough.  I have met someone held for over five years; the team at GDWG once met a detainee who had been held for nine years.
It seems unlikely that we as a country would tolerate the indefinite detention of any other group of people.  Yet the human reality of indefinite detention seems to be hidden. As it isn’t a new development it doesn’t automatically announce itself as newsworthy.  Detention is little-known about and even less  understood amongst the public, and anyone trying to publicise the issue faces well-known challenges in terms of perceived public views of asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants.

On the doorstep of the airport

Two of the UK’s current nine IRCs are at Gatwick Airport, and Brook House and Tinsley House are ‘at the airport’ in a very literal way.  I had visited other detention centres before, but the first thing that struck me about Brook and Tinsley was their sheer proximity to the runway. Detainees calling our office for assistance sometimes can’t hear us because of the noise of a plane taking off.
At a deeper level the near-constant sound of aircraft must be a reminder of the looming threat of removal to a country where the detainee may face torture, persecution, poverty, and/or alienation.  From another perspective, Gatwick handled over 40 million passengers in 2015, which means an average of over 100,000 people sweep a few hundred yards past the centres every day, the vast majority unaware of the IRCs’ existence.
Tinsley House opened in 1996 as the first purpose-built IRC; Brook House, built to category B prison specifications, opened in 2009. 100 additional beds are currently being added to Tinsley and Brook, meaning the detainee population across the two centres will likely be approaching 700 by the start of 2017.  With the imminent closure of the Cedars pre-departure removal centre, Tinsley House will soon also see families sometimes detained there in the days before their removal from the UK.
Indefinite detention challenges us to decide what actions to take.

GDWG’s response

At GDWG we respond in several main ways. Firstly – the starting point and the heart of our work – we visit individual detainees.  We aim to be able to offer a volunteer visitor to every Gatwick detainee who asks for one.  The volunteer will visit the detainee once a week, offering a connection with the outside world, a listening ear, some practical support, and emotional support.
Secondly, we provide practical support – phone cards, second-hand clothing – and some casework, referring detainees on to solicitors and other agencies for specialist help where this is possible.
Thirdly, we stand (and walk) with detainees and try to make their voices heard.  For the past two years, our Refugee Tales project has walked across Kent, Sussex and London for a week during the summer, inviting ex-detainees to join us and pairing people with first-hand experience of the asylum and detention systems with established writers so that untold stories can be told.  Fourthly, we work through Detention Forum and with other organisations to campaign for a 28-day limit to immigration detention and for fewer people to be detained in the first place.  This work includes recognising the need to make practical suggestions to the government on alternatives to detention, hence supporting Detention Action’s work around this.  We also work to raise awareness of and challenge myths around detainees, refugees and asylum seekers, including running sessions in schools.

Common humanity

Cutting across all work on indefinite detention and the conditions within IRCs, I think, is the urgent need to re-humanize individuals who’ve had their individuality taken away, feeling lost and forgotten within our detention system.   Detainees are not just numbers, or ‘migrants’, or ‘refugees and asylum seekers’.
The detainee about to be removed to the country he left as a child and that he cannot remember; the detainee who would die rather than return to the horrors of their country of origin; the detainee who can’t afford to call their family or is (as with somebody I spoke to the other day) too ashamed of their current situation to have UK-based family visit them in detention.
It can be too easy to be divided by politics and labels, but by befriending our detainees and telling their stories we can recognise, and hope to help others to recognise, our common humanity.

"How can this be legal?" Incredulity and anger when Unlocking Detention

By Lisa Matthews, Coordinator at Right to Remain.  This article was originally published on the Right to Remain blog.

Over the last few months, I’ve run several workshops across the UK, engaging communities on the issue of immigration detention and, specifically, the Unlocking Detention project which we (Right to Remain) co-run with Detention Action for the Detention Forum.
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Photo: Anna Sellen

A lot of our outreach work is with people currently navigating the UK asylum and immigration system, and the communities supporting them to do so. Many of these people are at risk of detention, though this does not necessarily mean they know a lot about it – detention truly is a concealed injustice. As Justice of the Freed Voices group said, “The first time I found out about detention was when the key turned in the cell door.”
These recent workshops, however, have been more about galvanising people who – though not at risk of detention themselves – can be powerful agents in demanding an end to detention. By saying ‘Not in my name’, ‘detention damages us all’, and ‘detention is dividing our communities’.
The participants of these workshops are of course a self-selecting demographic, to an extent. To attend an event run by us, on immigration detention, the participant is likely to have a pre-existing curiosity about or commitment to social justice and human rights.
Which makes the unfamiliarity with detention even more striking. Immigration detention is the deprivation of liberty for the ‘administrative convenience’ of the state – locking people up just because they come from a different country. A grave civil rights issue, a human rights ‘stain’ on the UK.
It’s not a small issue, either. Around 32,000 people are detained each year. Up to 4000 people can be detained at one time. And tens of thousands more live with the constant threat of detention, and/or with the long-term damage that previous detention has caused.
It’s happening to communities across the UK. The harm of detention is not limited to the (often very lengthy, always indefinite) period of imprisonment. A refugee in my workshop this week said of the legacy of his detention, “I will never be the same again”.
At our workshop in Swansea, a social worker came up to us afterwards (clutching one of our These Walls Must Fall posters, to go up in her office the next day) and said:

“I’m a social worker, and I knew nothing about this. I didn’t know about detention”.

At the most recent workshop, people were simply incredulous that such a thing could be happening here, now. To people who have been forced to flee their countries due to war and persecution, or economic insecurity, or those who have come to be with family, or to study or work in the UK.

People were bewildered. When I explained the facts of detention, they were confused, and angry. They were saying “But … but … if these people haven’t done anything wrong, why are they being locked up?” “But if it’s meant to be just to remove people from the UK, why are people detained for months and years?” “But if it doesn’t work, if most people are being released into the community, why is it happening?” “But if it costs so much money, it’s not good for the government, it’s not good for the person detained??” “But, how can this be legal?”

All very good questions.

This incredulity is important. It’s important because we shouldn’t live in a world, in a country, in a community, where detention makes sense. Harming people, denying people their freedom, should not make sense.
The incredulity reveals how appalling the policy of detention is, and how we believe we can and should do better than this.
And it’s important because it reveals just how much we have to do, how many more conversations we need to have about detention, how many eyes must be opened. That such a violation of rights, morals, humanity can continue every day for so many years, to so many people, shows how successfully detention has been hidden away.
Unlocking Detention wants to, and is, changing that. Three years in of this annual event, and we’re still reaching new audiences. The experiences of those who have experienced detention are moving people – new people, more people – and inspiring them to speak out and take action.
The virtual actions we ask people to take – last year, taking a photo of what they would miss if they were detained; this year, a drawing of what ‘detention’ means to them – creates a creative, meaningful connection between those at risk of or experiencing this injustice, with those protected from it by virtue of their immigration status or British citizenship.
The live Q and As, a weekly feature of Unlocking Detention done brilliantly by Ben from Detention Action, with people currently detained are a direct, immediate way of doing this. The questions to the person detained are crowdsourced from the public. The answers are invariably enlightening, powerful and sometimes devastating.
As well as the pattern of incredulity and bewilderment at these workshops, they share something else in common. They were all in areas without a detention centre on the doorstep. Detention centres are deliberately difficult to get to, so that’s not a surprise. But this is a crucial connection – detention does not just happen at detention centres. People are taken from somewhere first – detention happens in our communities.
I know there’s not a detention centre here in Cambridge…” I started to say to one participant, when he was asking what he could do. He interrupted me, saying what I was wanting to say, only better. “But people are being lifted from our streets”.
Exactly. Our streets, our communities, our people. Our problem, then. And we are also the solution.

A Letter to The Old Me, Before Brook House

This year, Unlocking Detention is particularly focusing on the impact of detention on an individual’s immediate social circle – their friends and family.  This piece by Ajay is the first of several on this theme from members of the Freed Voices group.
When he was asked how detention had impacted those around him Ajay said that ‘there was no one around me. There was only me…or who I used to be, anyway.’ And so, for this article, Ajay penned a letter to his former self – the one he knew before he was detained in Brook House detention centre.

Trigger warning: suicide
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Image: Justine Cal

Dear My Pre-Detention Self,
It’s been such a long time! I haven’t seen you for almost a year! I feel like I don’t know you anymore! Where the hell have you gone?! Where have you been hiding?! Why do you not get in touch? I thought there was no secret between You and Me. Are you ok? Is everything still good with you? Are you still hopeful? Are you still on your way to achieving your goals? I hope that everything worked out as planned.
I remember the last time I saw you was at Alex’s birthday, at the Queen’s Head. You were so talkative, making fun of everything. You wouldn’t let the conversation drop for a second. Are you still like that? Do you still want to be a computer engineer? I remember you were in the middle of your studies the last time we were together. I remember your friends asking you whether you were ever going to grow up – you seemed so happy to be in the present moment! I remember you smiling a lot…and enjoying the odd lager (or two!) as well. Are you still playing football with your friends every Monday? Do people still call you the ‘Nepalese Maradona’? Is your hair still like a chicken? Are you still wearing those Nikes you loved? Have you still got the stud earring you used to show off all the time?
I have to admit, I had to collect ALL my strength to write this letter. I am writing it in difficult circumstances. It’s not quite how it used to be for me. Laughing in the pub feels a long, long way away. I wish we could go back there, and be together again – You and Me.
I’ve just come out of detention. I was detained for about three months. Most of the time in a place called Brook House. It’s too much for me to explain everything about what happened to me there in this letter. But it is an experiences you would never want to even dream off. I hope you never go through something like that.
Do you remember when Me, You and Ram got locked inside Ram’s flat that time? Well, imagine that but for three months. Only without each other to chat to. And without the food we wanted to eat. And without sunlight coming in. And without the sofa or the bed. And without peace of mind the door would open at some point and we’d go outside. Imagine that we were also surrounded by other people who look like they’re experiencing the end of the world – some people are screaming, some people are silent with fear, some people are crying. Some people try to kill themselves in front of you. Imagine one night a stranger in uniform comes in and drags Ram out the door. And you don’t know where he’s gone or if he’s ok. And the lock on the door turns again. And its shutdown.
Well, this has been something like my reality over the last few months.
When I came out of detention I had nowhere to go. I was nearly homeless. I had no-one to talk to. I had no-one to go to the pub with (and also no money to buy anything). I had no-one to play football with. I really missed you then. It would have been good just to see you around. Even just to sit together and have a small chat. Even to sit together in silence.
I think detention changed me a lot to be honest. I wonder if you’d even recognise me now if we saw eachother. You’d probably think I was a different person. I wish we could get back together and hangout. I wish we could get back the old vibe we had, back then.
I miss you. Do you think I’ll ever see you again?
Wishing you all the best my friend,
Post-Detention Me

Week 2 of #Unlocked16: The Verne

This week, Unlocking Detention visited The Verne, perhaps the most isolated of the UK’s detention centres.
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The Verne opened as a detention centre (“immigration removal centre”) in 2014, and has 580 bed spaces.  Only men are detained here.  The centre is on the Isle of Portland, off Weymouth in Dorset.
The Verne is notorious for its high usage of segregation, but it is also isolating in many other ways.
On Friday, we conducted a live interview with Mark who is currently detained in the Verne.  When asked what his first thoughts were on arrival at the Verne, Mark replied:


And the Verne’s beautiful setting is small comfort to those detained there.


Read the full interview with Mark
The Verne is the least visited detention centre depsite being one of the largest.


There are just 0.2 visits per detainee each month.  (The infographic below is from Phil Miller’s excellent article on The Verne here).
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There are visitor groups working hard to combat this isolation – both the Verne Visitors Group and Detention Action regularly visit the centre.

The Verne’s History

The Verne has an interesting history …


The Verne remained a prison until 2014, when it became a detention centre, but still looks and feels like a prision (and is run by the Prison Service).
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Blog posts and articles

  • It was a week of great blog posts and articles, beginning with a piece by Mo who was detained for 12 months.  Read The Verne: Let my people go here.
  • Susannah Wilcox of Detention Action wrote a piece comparing the high use of segregation at The Verne with the indefinite isolation of detention.  Read The Verne: an exercise in societal segregation here.
  • Gayle Munro shed light on a little discussed aspect of detention – its chaplaincy regime – which you can read here.
  • Ben du Preez of Detention Action wrote a great blog post for the Border Criminologies blog, on how detention demands creative campaigning.  Read it here.
  • And thanks to Sam Grant of René Cassin, who wrote about Unlocking Detention for the RightsInfo blog.  Great that #Unlocked16 is reaching new audiences!

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Why detention demands creative campaigning

By Ben du Preez of Detention Action.  This piece was originally published on the Border Criminologies blog on 19 October.
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Guest post by Ben du Preez, Campaigner at Detention Action, where he helps coordinate the Freed Voices group – a group of experts-by-experience dedicated to speaking out about the realities of detention in the UK.  As a member of the Detention Forum, he also co-runs ‘Unlocking Detention’ – a virtual tour of the detention estate – with Right to Remain.
There is a scene in ‘Invisible‘ – a new virtual reality (VR) film about indefinite detention in the UK – in which John, a member of the Freed Voices group, reflects on how the suffocating bureaucracy of detention can feel like a physical barrier to release in and of itself: ‘To me it is like a living hell…it’s like climbing a mountain. Looking at all the forms and procedure you have to go through, it is heart breaking. And when you are in prison you are counting your days down, but in detention you are counting them up and up.

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The visuals that accompany these words place the viewer within what appears to be a small, stark detention cell, facing an open, heavy-set door. As John speaks, a slow smattering of documents – Section 4 applications, monthly reports, Medical Legal Reports, Reasons for Refusal letters, Judicial Reviews, Rule 35s, caseworker correspondence, court summaries, Article 8 applications, Exceptional Legal funding applications, Chief Immigration Officer Bail applications, removal directions (and more) – start to flood the room. First they plaster the walls and then they begin to collect by the base of the door. There, they mount…and mount…and mount – just like the days in detention, ‘up and up‘ – until the ‘way out’ is completely submerged in paper and it feels like you can’t breathe but for Home Office letterheads.
It is one of many powerful scenes in ‘Invisible‘ – produced by VR City Films – that does not try to represent the literal lived reality of indefinite detention, but rather seeks to create sensorial re-imaginings of it. To a certain extent this (like all attempts to raise awareness of, and campaign against, the use of detention in the UK) is dictated by the particular political and physical markers that characterise immigration detention in this country – namely, its two ‘great unknowns’.
Firstly, there is the ‘not-knowing’ that comes with the UK’s singular lack of a time limit on detention. As Darren Emerson, the film’s director, has noted, this ‘seemed to permeate‘ the reflections and testimony of contributing Freed Voices members. The devastating long-term, and occasionally lethal, psychological affect of indefinite detention has been extensively documented in medical journals, academic studies, policy briefs and NGO reports. But effectively communicating the truly mind-bending impact of this experience can be difficult – emotionally, for those who are experiencing or have experienced the trauma first-hand, but also linguistically. Only a few months ago during a Freed Voices session, I thought of Primo Levi, and his call for the need for a new language in order to adequately describe his experiences of the Lager, when a member of the group said; ‘I don’t have the vocabulary to describe it [indefinite detention]. My words aren’t right.’ Similarly, no singular photograph can translate this mental agony. No conventional news piece can fully express its creeping but ultimately transformative affect.
Secondly, detention in the UK is defined by its inaccessibility. Hidden behind 20ft prison walls and reams of barbed wire, detention centres have long been our immigration system’s black-sites. Not only are the general public kept at arm’s length, but all shades of documentarians are denied entry. This kind of ‘not knowing’ naturally encourages a lack of transparency, severely hampers accountability and actively invites distrust of the detention system at large. But it also means that those who might not have ever been to, or visited someone in, detention (our Prime Minister included) do not have an understanding of what these sites of trauma might look, smell, sound or feel like.
Both forms of ‘not knowing’ – one mental, from the inside-out; the other physical, from the outside-in – mean that challenging the use of detention in the UK necessarily demands a degree of creativity. If you are committed to effectively engaging people in this issue, you have to find different, innovative ways in…over the prison walls and through the locked iron doors.

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In another unforgettable scene in ‘Invisible‘, the VR-headset wearer finds themselves in a different  cell, with the sound of dial tone ringing through. The call is answered by ‘Ray’, recorded speaking from his actual room in Harmondsworth detention centre. As he begins to describe how detention has melted his identity – ‘when you strip someone of their rights to freedom, rights to family, rights to expression…then you’re made to feel not human anymore’ – the ceiling above starts to disintegrate. Streams of blue light pierce through until this porousness finally gives way and the viewer is left floating in some ghostly underwater gloom, surrounded by the faint outline of other ‘hanging’ bodies around you. The beat of Ray’s words reverberate in the form of a lost, ephemeral, heart. (You can watch the team at VR City dissect how they produced this particular shot in their Behind the Scenes trailer from 2.43minutes onwards).
It is a scene which perfectly encapsulates the inventiveness needed to skirt the impossibility of entering Harmondsworth and to fully translate the otherworldliness of ‘Ray’s predicament, and the weight of his words. It also alludes to why the film is entitled ‘Invisible‘. As Emerson explains, its producers ‘were keen that the film focused on issues of identity because detention strips people of their sense of self’, rendering them ‘unseen even to themselves‘, and ‘on the other hand, there is the invisibility of the detention estate.’
Attacking this invisibility is the central premise of the Detention Forum‘s ‘Unlocking Detention‘ social media project, another example of how addressing detention naturally encourages unorthodox campaigning. Right now, #Unlocked16 – the third iteration of this annual, ‘virtual’ tour of the UK’s detention estate – is ‘visiting’ every site of immigration detention in the UK (this week you’ll find us ‘at’ the Verne). Through a daily stitch of tweets, photos, blogs and commentary, we shine a spotlight on those black-sites the government would otherwise have the general public believe are ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Again, there is a premium on ‘thinking outside of the box’, finding a different route in: every week we conduct a live Twitter Q&A with someone in detention, whilst previous tours have included experts-by-experience penning letters to their previous captors, mapping the psycho-geography of their detention, and interviewing loved-ones about the impact of detention on their own relationships.

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This year’s theme – ‘Friends and Family’ – focuses on the often tragic, life-changing effect detention can have on one’s immediate ‘inner circle’, and the close, personal relations that bind us and make us who we are. These wider ripples of indefinite detention are consistently unreported, or ‘made invisible’, and in order to challenge that, #Unlocked16 is asking people – again, inside and outside detention – to draw their answer to the question, ‘What does detention mean to you?‘ Only one week into a two month tour (which ends on International Migrants Day, 18th December) and we’ve already received over a hundred drawings. This is just one example of how ‘Unlocking Detention’ has become a creative platform for mobile solidarity; a space where ideas, resources, outrage, dialogue, support and action flow across, and connect, those who, regrettably, might know everything there is to know about detention and those who, for many different reasons, might not know enough (for another example see here).
Importantly, ‘Invisible‘ also ends championing this solidarity, removing the distance between those detained and the communities they were taken from and into which they will be released. Straight from a scene of public demonstration outside Yarl’s Wood, the viewer finds themselves on the streets of Middlesbrough. Standing defiantly in front of us (and his own front door) is long-time Freed Voices member, Abdal, who has collectively lost over four years of his life to detention. His physical appearance (and his bold stance) are an active challenge to the film’s own title and his words undermine any Home Office hope that those in, or post-detention, will go quietly into the night. ‘We lost our families, our children, our selves…But will I sit here and cry about it? No. We still have guts and we still have heart. I’m gonna pick myself up. I’m gonna stand. And I’m gonna fight.’

Released but not yet free: the Home Office immigration curfew system

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This post was written by Ravi Naik, Public and International Law Solicitor and Head of Public Law at ITN Solicitors.
Ravi acted for the Claimant in the “Gedi v SSHD” case discussed below.

This post highlights how communicating immigration detention is not solely about abstract policy issues, but can also raise awareness of legal rights that those affected might otherwise be unaware of.


The Home Office’s immigration curfew system presents an anomaly of the Home Office’s detention regime, providing a mechanism to detain people at home when they would otherwise be free. The curfews imposed a condition that the person had to be at the residence named in their bail conditions between certain times.
This system was challenged through this firm in the case of Gedi v SSHD. In that case, the Court of Appeal held that the Home Office had no authority to impose such curfews. Rather, the evidence uncovered during the course of the case was that the Home Office had merely assumed it had the relevant power. The Court of Appeal found that that depriving someone of their freedom requires “the clearest legislative authority”.
The Court of Appeal emphasised the need for legislation and oversight “for a requirement of this nature”. The evidence has borne this out; curfews were imposed indiscriminately, for varying hours and often for 12 hours a day.
As a result of the ruling, the Home Office no longer had the authority to impose such curfews on individuals. However, despite this clear ruling, the Home Office refused to remove the curfews from people.
We have acted for a large number of people who the Home Office refused to release from their curfews. We brought a number of challenges to the continued imposition of the conditions. In each case, the Court ordered the Home Office to remove the curfew. The Home Office appear to have finally taken their head out of the sand and have now issued guidance to caseworkers to remove the curfews.
Given the practice of the Home Office, we are however concerned that there may be others who remain detained under a curfew. All such people are entitled to and deserve their freedom. If you know anyone who remains subject to an immigration curfew, please get in contact with solicitors as a matter of urgency. Our firm are more than happy to assist and we would encourage anyone effected to contact us as soon as possible.

Contact Ravi Naik, head of Public Law at ITN Solicitors:
Email: rnaik@itnsolicitors.com
Phone: 020 8522 7707
ITN Solicitors are based in London but can take on cases from across England and Wales.

Live Q and A with Mark, detained in the Verne

This week Unlocking Detention has been ‘visiting’ The Verne detention centre, in Dorset.  On Friday afternoon, Ben from Detention Action conducted a live interview with Mark who is currently detained there.
Ben alerted those following the Q and A that, as with last week, communication was going to be difficult – the remoteness of the Verne means there’s always a bad phone connection.
And the interview was going to be difficult in other ways too.  The interviewer knows Mark well. At one point he was going to join the Freed Voices group but was re-detained…back to The Verne.


The next question for Mark comes from Scottish Detainee Visitors:
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Another question from Scottish Detainee Visitors:


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The next question came from a participant at a recent workshop on Unlocking Detention run by Right to Remain in Cambridge, written about here.
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How many pairs of shoes do you have that are not flip flops? (asked someone who visits people in detention, so knows this is a common issue!)


Another question for Mark, currently detained in the Verne, arguably the most isolated of all detention centres in the UK:
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