The Home Office has decided that, from April 2022, most people who have a reporting condition attached to their immigration bail are to report by telephone instead of in-person.
What is immigration bail?
If you have been in immigration detention, you can apply for release by “immigration bail”.
The conditions of release on bail are usually a specified address, perhaps having financial condition supporters and – before the Home Office’s most recent decision – a requirement to report regularly at a police station or reporting centre. Sometimes people are released on condition of being fitted with an electronic tagging device.
To learn more about immigration bail, have a look at our Toolkit page on Immigration Detention.
What is telephone reporting?
Instead of attending a Home Office reporting centre, individuals subject to telephone reporting will be given a time slot during which they are expected to wait for one phone call from the Home Office. There will still be some in-person reporting, but after that most of it will be done by telephone.
The main benefit of telephone reporting is that migrants do not have to spend time and money travelling to Home Office reporting centres. It might also be less stressful than attending reporting centres in-person.
In-person reporting can be an extremely stressful process. People often travel for hours to report without any financial assistance. Some people are made to wait for hours in outdoor queues, even if they have disabilities, and are often treated disrespectfully by Home Office staff. There have been cases of people being made to report as often as every day. Many individuals are also interviewed during reporting events or detained and even removed.
Even at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, when the official government guidance was to isolate, the Home Office continued to ask migrants to report in-person, putting them at risk of catching the virus.
However, telephone reporting is not without flaws. Getting and maintaining a phone can be a challenge for people with limited financial means – topping it up with enough credit is expensive. Having to wait for one phone call at an unconfirmed time can also cause stress or anxiety.
Not everyone on immigration bail will be given a telephone appointment slot – some people will still have to report in-person. If you are selected for telephone reporting, the Home Office will notify you of the decision by email, text message, or post.
Campaign against reporting conditions
In 2020, research conducted by Migrants Organise and the Public Law Project revealed the extremely negative impact of in-person reporting on those subjected to it.
The research found that the Home Office were imposing reporting conditions on vulnerable migrants, such as survivors of human trafficking. The rate of absconding (missing reporting appointments) was also very low, meaning that because people were complying with it, in-person reporting was not a useful measure.
After the report was published, many NGOs including Migrants Organise and our own These Walls Must Fall campaigners set up the ‘Abolish Reporting’ campaign to demand an end to reporting conditions for everyone, and met with Home Office officials to explain why ending the surveillance of all migrants is so important.
The decision to make telephone reporting the standard requirement is a good step forward, but there is still a long way to go to ensure that migrants are not criminalised or made to feel unsafe whilst waiting for an immigration or asylum decision.
To learn more about telephone reporting, have a read of this article by the Free Movement blog.
If you have a reporting condition and need guidance, take a look at this flyer drafted by Migrants Organise.
Lastly, to get involved and demand justice for migrants in the UK, join our Week of Action to End the Hostile Environment from 13-19 June 2022. Solidarity knows no borders!
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