Legal support for those in immigration detention with mental ill health needs to be improved

Published: 02 Feb 2018

The Court of Appeal has ruled that the Home Office needs to do more to ensure that those in immigration detention with mental health conditions have access to the necessary support to protect their legal rights.

The case centred around 'VC', who had serious mental illness and became too unwell to represent himself as decisions were made on his continued detention.

The court found he had been unlawfully detained for a period of 10 months before he was transferred to hospital for treatment under the Mental Health Act 1983.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:

“The truth is that insufficient consideration has been given to the needs of those in immigration detention with mental ill health, who are among those most in need of protection and safeguarding by the state.

“We welcome today’s judgment, which requires the Home Office to now take steps to ensure equal access to justice for everyone in immigration detention.”

Notes to editors

The Commission intervened in this case to highlight the duty under the Equality Act 2010 to consider and make reasonable adjustments to procedures before the need arises to ensure disabled people have equal access to justice. 

This is particularly important when the disability is serious mental illness, which can prevent someone from being able to ask for or identify the reasonable adjustments they require. 

This case concerns the right to liberty, which highlights the important rights that may be at stake.

The Commission hopes the judgment will be used widely to ensure disabled people can assert their legal rights without discrimination in any setting where the state makes decisions that affect their fundamental rights.

Read the full judgment on the BAILII website.

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