Much of the Right to Remain Toolkit is based on people’s direct experience of the asylum and immigration system, and the ideas and actions they have found helpful to navigate the system and survive.
That’s particularly true for the Toolkit section on Preparing in Case of Detention, which is also something we have run many training sessions on over the years, where we share people’s tips and take note of suggestions from people who are themselves at risk of detention, have been detained, or are supporting people in that position. We update the online Toolkit whenever we hear useful new ideas/actions, or if a better way of explaining things is shared with us. We’d like to thank the Freed Voices group for the information they provided in a workshop recently which has led to updating of this Toolkit page.
Preparing in case of immigration detention.
If you are at risk of being detained, there are some things that you can and should do to be prepared.
You should have a list of emergency contacts, and someone else should have a copy. These might include your lawyer’s number (and your case reference number the lawyer uses in letters to you), any close friends or family, people you have spoken to about caring for children in case of detention, doctors or hospitals if you have a medical condition.
Have copies of your documents. If you are detained, it may become impossible for you to access your documents if they are in your home. This means that vital evidence that a lawyer or a friend/supporter needs can’t be reached. You should have a copy of all your documents, not just your lawyer. Give a copy of these documents to someone you trust. Scan and email yourself copies of your important legal documents, so that you can access them if you are detained.
If possible, give a friend a copy of your house/room key. If you are detained, they can go and get essential things for you from your house. This may not be possible, for example if you are living in asylum accommodation. Only give a key to someone you trust, and make sure you are allowed to do this under your accommodation rules. Alternatively, give a consent letter in advance to a friend giving permission to access your room in asylum accommodation if you are detained. This consent letter is also useful so that a friend can contact your lawyer on your behalf.
Your phone will probably be taken off you when you are detained. Keep your important numbers written down. If it’s possible to still use your own sim card, it’s a good idea to have saved important numbers to the sim card beforehand (rather than to your phone handset) so the numbers will be still available in the replacement phone. If you have a smart phone, the sim card is unlikely to work in the detention centre device.
If you are on medication, take this with you when you go to report/sign at the Home Office. You should be able to keep this with you if you are detained, though you will be issued with new medication once you are detained. Also take your prescription for the medication with you, and if possible, a letter from your doctor explaining why you need it and why it should not be restricted or changed.