Recent decisions by Immigration Judges on refusing bail for detainees show that the grant of temporary release is starting to slow down.
With the Home Office in rampant mood with removals and deportations of illegal over stayers in the UK, it is little surprise that applications for bail are on the increase.
Many failed immigrants who have had the misfortune of being stopped by police for random checks have ended up in Immigration detention due to lack of status. Those who had escaped the radar for years have suddenly found themselves scurrying around for Solicitors to lodge last ditch applications to lengthen their stay.
Making an application for bail in such cases is not as straightforward as would first appear. The old adage that everyone is entitled to liberty unless there is a good cause to incarcerate has almost vanished in the Immigration Courts. Those seeking bail have a uphill struggle to persuade any Judge to take a chance.
Firstly, it is important to understand that in order to have a successful bail application, there must be a sound footing as to why bail should be granted in principle. If there is no imminent removal then the application has a strong base. However, something has to be pending. It is pointless applying for bail if the applicant has no outstanding applications or court hearings in the UK and is simply applying for bail to go seek the help of a solicitor.
If there is an outstanding application with the Home Office or there is an appeal pending with the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, then Judges will be minded to grant bail in principle. The only difficulty applicants may find here is if they carry serious criminal convictions and would be classed as a danger to the public. However, most detainees seeking immigration bail would have already served sentence and the humble request of a reformed character would always persuade a reasonable Judge.
Further, the importance of sureties cannot be underestimated. Even the strongest bail applications on principle can fail if a Judge feels uncomfortable about granting bail in practice.
Sureties must know the detainee and must show to have knowledge of the applicant’s immigration status in the UK. Family members come across as more reliable sureties than friends. The length of time the surety has known the applicant is also fundamentally important. Cross examination at the bail hearing by Home Office Counsel is almost a certainty on this point.
The recognizance (bail bond) put forward by the surety is also a vital component. It is said that the more money one puts forward the better chance the application will have. Although this may be true in most cases, it is important to note that Judges are looking for a sum which is significant to the surety. It must be a sum which, if lost or forfeited, will hurt the surety hard
A surety carrying a bank statement confirming £20,000 cannot put forward a sum of £500. It simply will not be classed as a significant sum. However, a surety with a modest balance of £800 can argue that the sum of £500 is a huge sum and would be financially crippling if it were to be given away. Either way, sureties must always remember to bring recent bank statements or mini statements when standing as surety. Bank statements 3 months old will simply not help even in the strongest application.
The bail accommodation is also an essential ingredient in the bail application. It is advisable for the surety to provide his/her address as the bail address. It is futile for any detainee to provide an address in Rochdale when sureties live in London. There is no possible way of exerting any sort of influence when sureties live far away from applicants. The Courts and Home Office find that surety addresses are more suitable especially if there is a history of absconding or non-reporting.