Risk Evaluation for Immigration Detainees in the UK

The UK Home Office has issued a new detention services order with the name: “Considering detainee placement”; DSO 03/2016. In laymen terms this means that a proper risk assessment is necessary prior to an individual being accepted into the immigration detention. This will certainly have a huge legal impact. It was necessary that the UK Home Office stipulates some legal guidelines especially in the wake of the incident concerning Alois Dvorcak. In recent years the UK immigration system has witnessed some inexcusable detention decisions and the detention of Alois an elderly man was one such terrible incident.

DSO 03/2016 has replaced DSO 01/2003. The famous “Shaw Review” had criticised the DSO 01/2003 which was also concerned risk assessment as being poorly drafted. The report described the document as “a process driven document which gives no insight into risk factors.” This previous guideline had no mention that a detention might not be suitable in certain cases. It simply appeared to be a procedure laid down for its own sake rather than benefitting the systems or the population with any positive outcome. Prolonged mass detention has been a time tested practise with the UK immigration authorities and whether the new DSO would be able to bring about a much needed change in this culture is something which time will only tell. The new DSO has a hint of suggestion that detention might not be the solution in certain cases with specific presence of risk factors.

Excerpt from the new DSO guideline:

“The presence of risk factors do not in themselves preclude detention. They may, however, mean that individuals need to be managed in a particular way once detained and/or require careful placement in the detention estate to manage or mitigate the risks in question. It is important to ensure that possible risks that may make a person particularly vulnerable are identified accurately and notified appropriately. More generally, careful consideration must be given to whether the risk factors may engage the policy on suitability for detention as set out in section 55.10 of the Enforcement Instructions and Guidance. Where that policy is engaged, consideration must be given as to whether there are very exceptional circumstances present that justify detention in what would otherwise normally be an unsuitable case.” (Source: – Detention Services Order 03/2016 – Consideration of Detainee Placement in the Detention Estate)

Experienced and leading UK immigration lawyers would be able to make wise use of this clause in helping immigrants who really need genuine help.

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