In what appears to be a heated debate, a senior judge has rebuked claims from the Home Office about the level of bail being granted to detained migrants recently, saying that the independent judiciary deal with such cases based on the law and nothing else.


The Home Office is supposed to detain only those it can deport imminently, which has been virtually impossible recently due to flights being grounded because of the coronavirus outbreak.


In a letter to the president of the Tribunal, Immigration and Asylum Chamber dated 29 April 2020, the Home Office’s head of appeals, James Stevens, wrote: “The numbers of those in detention have reduced very significantly since the start of this emergency.” He followed this up by saying: “The Home Office is somewhat surprised at the level of grants of bail in recent weeks.”


Official figures record 1,225 people in detention centres on 1 January and 368 at the latest count – a reduction of almost three-quarters.


Stevens asked if immigration judges would be able to, in future, provide written reasons as to why detainees are being granted bail. This comment did not sit well with senior judge Michael Clements, who responded that written reasons are unnecessary.


Clements said of written reasons: ‘This is not a helpful practice. These only repeat the law with which the judge is already familiar, add little of substance and do not seek to address the specific circumstances of the application.’


We feel during these extremely tough times, it should be the health and safety of all people that should be the main concern of the Home Office. Whenever possible, detainees should be released from the detention centres to minimise any risk of Covid-19 infection, instead of continuing to be detained.


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