via Migrants Organise
Unfortunately, the Home Office has made the decision to maintain physical reporting during this lockdown. It is still not a return to normal, but from our informal conversations with them, they will likely enforce it on foreign national offenders and individuals who they think are vulnerable and require a check-in.
The Home Office’s assurances are that they have implemented procedures to ensure the safety of individuals and staff. This should include:
- Screening questions should be asked at the door at all reporting centres, and if a person provides a negative response, they are not allowed to enter the building
- Masks and sanitisers are provided
- Social distancing measures will be enforced, as well as one-way systems
Their ‘justification’ is that schools and universities remain open and that members of the public can continue to travel to their places of employment and that public transport continues to run. The Coronavirus Health Regulations also sets out travel access for the individual to “fulfill legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions” and to access “asylum and immigration service and interview” (quotes are from the regulation, exception 2)
Migrants Organise take strong issues with the Home Office’s position, particularly the fact that 1)There is no necessity for physical reporting. The absconding rate in 2018 was merely 3% and there is no indication that that has increased when reporting was suspended during the first lockdown and 2) the whole country is going through another lockdown and these unnecessary measures will not help curb the spread of the virus, and puts the lives of everyone at risk. Our suspicion is that the Home Office does not want to continue setting up a precedent that highlights the lack of necessity of reporting conditions, and so they are prioritising this over public health.
If you have cases of individuals who need to report during this lockdown, our advice remains that you should try to assist them to challenge the reporting condition with the relevant reporting centres, and potentially judicially review any refusal or lack of response.
Migrants Organise also would like to approach the media to highlight this issue, so if you are able to share case studies and/or the affected individual is willing to speak directly to a journalist (whether anonymously or not), please email Brian Dikoff or [email protected]