Worried about being detained?

Every week, asylum seekers are detained when they go to report at the Home Office at Waterside Court.People are usually detained only when the Home Office have made all the arrangements necessary to forcibly remove them from the UK such as prepare travel documents and book flights.This can take quite some time to happen after a person’s case has been refused and they have become appeal rights exhausted.If you are worried about being detained there are a number of things you can do to prepare yourself should you be detained by the UKBA.
Practical things you can do before going to sign at Waterside
  • Talk to your lawyer and make sure they are working on your case. Ask them for an ‘Emergency number’ you can use when their office is shut.
  • Make sure your friends and family know that you are going to sign, and if you are worried about being detained.
  • Make arrangements for what they should do if you are detained. Give someone a set of your house keys so they can collect your valuables and legal documents and keep them safe for you.
  • Register with Leeds Unity Centre and sign in with them before you go to report.
  • Ask friends and family to come and wait for you when you go to report.
  • Keep copy of emergency phone numbers as you may have your mobile phone taken from you.
More information

If you wish to have any of this explained please contact us at Leeds Unity Centre.

You are usually safe if your asylum case is still going. It is important you keep in contact with your lawyer about this. On some very rare occasions, the Home Office detain people and tell them that their case has been refused at the same time, but this does not happen very often.

You are also safe if the Home Office have not asked you to bring all your family with you as they do not have enough resources to go and find other people in your family. It is quite normal for the Home Office to tell you to bring your family so that travel documents can be made for you and your family. This usually happens if your children were born in the UK and don’t have travel documents / passports for your country of origin or if you did not have any travel documents with you when you arrived in the UK. It is very unlikely that the Home Office will detain you if they have not made travel documents for you. The Home Office are not be allowed to forcibly remove you if travel documents have not been made for you.

If you are detained they will take your mobile phone away from you but you are usually allowed to phone or leave a message with your lawyer or with a friend.

You will normally be held at Waterside Court for 2 hours before they transport you to a detention centre. It will then take another two hours for you to go through the reception process at the detention centre before you are taken to your room where you should be able to make and receive telephone calls. This means if you are detained you will not be able to make any phone calls late that evening.

Sometimes people can be detained late in the day after many lawyers close for the day or late in the week when their lawyers are shut over the weekend. Make sure to register with Leeds Unity Centre and let them know if you change your lawyer. Ask your lawyer for an out of office hours emergency telephone number you can use to contact them.

Usually, if you are detained you will be told straight away when the removal flight will be and usually you will be given a signed copy of ‘Removal Directions’ which will give the date, time, destination and flight number of the removal flight. Normally people should be given 72 hours notice of removal directions.

In West Yorkshire, when people are detained they are normally  taken to either Morton Hall, Harmondsworth or Yarslwood. Sometimes they may even be taken to Pennine House. If you have children, it is likely you will be taken to Cedars. Travel will take several hours, depending on which detention centre you are taken to. Sometimes this can take over several hours and you will not be able to talk to anyone including your lawyer whilst you are travelling.

When you arrive at a detention centre, if your phone has a camera in it, they will take it from you as you are not allowed to have cameras in the centres. Not all detention centres have telephones in the rooms. If not, you will be able to purchase a mobile phone and some credit from the detention centre. As a result you may lose any saved telephone numbers you have in your phone.

Usually people are only detained about four or five days before the removal flight is due to happen. The Home Office do this deliberately so you do not have much time to find a lawyer before the removal flight.

Only 3 solicitor firms have access to each detention centre. This means getting legal representation is very difficult from the centre. If you don’t already have a lawyer working on your case, you will need to find an internal solicitor. Each law firm have drop-in surgeries at the detention centres. It is important that you find out when these are and book yourself an appointment to see a solicitor.

It may not be possible for you to get legal aid in England. You may need to pay for a solicitor to take your case on. If you do, make sure you consult friend or agencies and get advice about this before you pay for anything.

Remember there are many things you can do to help yourself if you are detained – even if you end up without a lawyer to help you – it is crucial you do not give up hope.