News & Views Monday 21st December to Thursday 31st December 2015

Serco, G4S, and Clearel - Struggle with Asylum Contracts

High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email to buy additional rights.  The numbers of asylum seekers that need to be housed by the three companies has jumped from 25,220 people in 2013 when the contracts began, to 36,069 by the end of September this year. All three companies are making a loss on every asylum seeker they house. They say an eight-year high in the numbers has put “unsustainable” pressure on their business.

The so-called Compass contracts for asylum seekers have had problems in the past. G4S, Serco and Clearel — a joint venture between Clearsprings and Reliance — were awarded a total of six contracts to house 23,000 asylum seekers in March 2012, as part of Home Office plans to save £140m on the service over seven years. But a National Audit Office report last year found that the companies had taken on rented housing stock without inspecting it, and subsequently failed to meet contractual quality standards.
Read more: Gill Plimmer, Financial Times, 23/12/2015

Gay British Man Avoids Extradition to Dubai

In a strongly worded ruling, a judge at Westminster magistrates court said the United Arab Emirates had not given the court sufficient assurances that Michael Halliday’s human rights would be respected. In district judge Jeremy Coleman’s ruling, which sets a significant precedent, he said: “The trial, treatment and conditions of those accused or convicted of criminal offences in the UAE is still the subject of complaint and is often alleged to fall well below the required standards … Taking into account Mr Halliday’s own circumstances, I cannot be satisfied that he would not be at significant risk. The UAE remains adamant that it will not allow prison inspections because the extradition treaty makes such inspections both unnecessary and inappropriate.” Lawyers for Michael Halliday, 32, who is from the Midlands, had argued that because homosexuality is a crime in Dubai, he would be punished disproportionately.
Read more: Owen Bowcott, Guardian, 22/12/2015

On-line Application: Evidence

Prodobreyev, R (on the Application of) v SSHD  (On-line application: evidence) (IJR) [2015] UKUT 699 (IAC) (10 December 2015)
1. This is an application for judicial review. Permission was granted by Judge Kebede. The decision under challenge was made on 27 March 2014. It was a decision to treat an application by the applicant for further leave to remain as invalid. The reason relied upon by the Secretary of State both in that decision and in these proceedings is that the applicant was required to submit a Police Registration Certificate with his application, but had not done so.
14.  It follows that the present applicant was not required to submit a Police Registration Certificate: that is a document that was not specified as mandatory in the application form or in any related guidance. The application for judicial review is granted and the decision under challenge will be quashed.

Scotland’s New Prosecutorial Guidance and Refugees

Earlier this month, Scotland’s Lord Advocate announced new prosecution guidelines designed to protect refugees fleeing persecution. These help give effect to the UK’s obligations under Article 31 of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which states that: “The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of Article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence.”
Section 31(1) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (“the Act”) already provides a defence for refugees who commit certain offences in order to gain entry to the country. The new guidelines provide direction for Scottish prosecutors when considering cases in which this defence may arise. They reiterate the importance of the public interest test for prosecution when considering the particular vulnerabilities of refugees “even when the criteria of section 31 are not strictly met.” The guidelines also potentially broaden the application of the defence in Scotland, both in terms of the offences to which it applies and the classes of people who may rely on it.
Read more: Emily Baxter, UK Human Rights Blog, 21/12/2015

Home Office Interpreters Threaten Boycott Over Pay Cut

 The system for processing immigration claims across the country is set to grind to a halt in the new year if a threatened mass boycott by Home Office interpreters goes ahead. The looming action in protest at pay cuts is the first time the estimated 2,000 interpreters have threatened to stop work. The organisers of a fair pay campaign – who are running it anonymously for fear of reprisals by the Home Office – say that so far they have received solid support from several hundred interpreters. A meeting with Home Office bosses has been scheduled for 11am on Monday to discuss their concerns. The problems began when interpreters received an email on 20 November from the Home Office central interpreters unit in Liverpool informing them that a pay cut would be introduced from 1 January. Interpreters receive £16 an hour on weekdays and slightly more at the weekend. But the first hour’s work is paid at an enhanced rate to recognise the time and cost of travelling to appointments. That first-hour rate is being cut from £48 to £32 on weekdays and from £72 to £46 at weekends.

Interpreters are expected to travel up to three hours each way without extra payments from the Home Office. They attend meetings between asylum seekers and others interacting with immigration officials, and translate interview questions and answers face to face. The pay cuts will apply to various areas of the Home Office’s work, including UK Visas and Immigration, Border Force, Immigration Enforcement and HM Passport Office.
Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian, 20/12/2015

Crisis Skylight Newcastle Christmas Day and Boxing Day

Both days will be packed with activities and will be free and open to all over the age of 18.

Activities will include Games / food / films / creative sessions / food all day / quiet relaxation space / health and wellbeing services / advice and guidance / internet surfing and much more.

Free transport
A free pick up service will be operating on both days. To access this, please call from 8.30am onwards on either day. We cannot take advanced bookings unfortunately. Last bus home will leave at 7pm.

For more information
Drop in to Crisis Skylight or call 0191 222 0622 and ask for one of the Christmas Team.
Crisis Skylight Newcastle
1-3 City Road

Download brochure here . . . .


UNHCR Leads in LGBTI Refugee, Asylum Seeker Protection
The UN Refugee Agency is leading the way in delivering protection to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons in forced displacement with the rolling out of a new training programme for UNHCR staff and other protection and humanitarian workers, the most comprehensive training package of its kind globally.
LGBTI persons fleeing persecution face a complex array of challenges and threats at all stages of displacement, including discrimination, prejudice, violence, difficulty accessing humanitarian services, and barriers to articulating their protection needs during asylum procedures and other interactions with protection and humanitarian actors.
Read more: UNHCR, 24/12/2015

Offenders: Deportation

Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what proportion of foreign nationals convicted of a crime in the UK were deported to their country of origin in each of the last three years.

Financial Year Referrals for Enforcement Number of Removed
2015/16 (to Q2) 5,262


2014/15 10,461 


2013/14 10,786 5,118
2012/13  6,874    4,720
2011/12 7,326 4,539
2010/11 6,452 5,367

Gulf Countries: Bid to Protect Migrant Workers

Human Rights Watch today issued a set of guidelines to protect migrant construction workers. International and domestic companies operating in Gulf Cooperation Council countries should adopt the standards to ensure that they and their contractors and sub-contractors respect the rights of migrant workers on their projects and to protect workers from serious abuses, including trafficking and forced labor. “In the face of rampant abuse and exploitation of worker’s rights in GCC countries, construction firms need to step up to protect their workforce,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director. “These guidelines outline how companies can guarantee workers’ basic rights under international law and would make a huge difference in ending worker exploitation.”
Read more: Human Rights Watch, 21/12/2015


(i) Paragraph 403 of the Immigration Rules co-exists, and must be given effect in tandem, with the United Nations Convention Relating To The Status Of Stateless Persons and the Secretary of State's policy instruction.

(ii) In every statelessness case, the four interlocking components of the governing test are whether the person concerned is considered as ... a national ... by any state ... under the operation of its law: Pham v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2015] UKSC 19 applied.

(iii) Given that statelessness applications and decisions are made within the realm of public law, the governing principles include the Tameside ( Secretary of State for Education and Science v Metropolitan Borough Council of Tameside [1977] AC 1014) and the British Oxygen ( British Oxygen v Minister of Technology [1971] AC 610) principles.

(iv) The policies of public authorities are not merely material considerations to be taken into account by the decision maker. Rather, they trigger a duty to give effect to their terms, absent good reason for departure.

(v) In some cases it may be necessary to consider the practice of the government of a foreign state as well as its nationality laws.

R (Application of Semeda) v SSHD (statelessness; Pham [2015] UKSC 19 applied) (IJR)

A child, born in the United Kingdom, of a foreign national, who seeks to be recognised as stateless, but who can under the law of the parent's nationality, obtain citizenship of that country by descent by registering their birth, may properly be regarded as admissible to that country , as set out at paragraph 403(c) of HC 395. Though a greater intensity of scrutiny is appropriate in a case such as this, it remains the case that the decision that an individual is not stateless can only be impugned on public law principles.

R (application of JM) v SSHD (Statelessness: Part 14 of HC 395) (IJR)

Down and Out in London/Newcastle/Edinburgh This Festive Season

Crisis Christmas day centres  are safe, warm and lively places run by caring and  friendly volunteers.

For seven days over Christmas you can enjoy hot food and discover loads of fun activities.  You can get a free haircut, health care, health and housing advice, learn new skills, be entertained and  much, much more.

Day Centres are in North, West, South, East and South East  London.

Day centres will be open from 12noon on Wednesday 23 December.

The day centres will close at 9pm on Tuesday 29 December. Opening hours between these times are 9am to 9pm

Between 24 and 29 December the bus will arrive at the first stop at 9am and will call at each of the stops until 12noon. You should not have to wait any longer than one hour for a bus. Please make your own way to the day centres if you can.

Download leaflet for exact addresses for each centre.

Crisis at Christmas in Edinburgh

25 - 26 December 2015, 8am – 8pm  and  1 January 2016, 12 – 8pm
More than 300 volunteers are giving their time and talent to create Crisis at Christmas in Edinburgh. As well as good company and food, you can have a haircut, enjoy a massage, create a piece of art and also find out more about what Crisis offers around the city all year round.

This year we will be running a pick up service from the bottom of Leith Walk every 30 minutes from 8am – 2pm. We can take you straight to the venue.

For more information
download the Crisis at Christmas Edinburgh leaflet.

Last updated 31 December, 2015