Corona in the UK: protection against deportation
Immigration Center in London Photo: reuters

For 350 people from 49 UK countries on the UK deportation list, the coronavirus has unexpected consequences: you can stay in the country for the time being and even leave the internment centers.

This is the result of Wednesday’s lawsuit launched by the Detention Action organization against the UK Home Office.


In an interview with TEH, Bella Sankey, the head of the organization, referred to a health professional who had advised her. He explained that the health of at least 60 percent of those affected was at great risk because of the Covid 19 crisis. There were even deaths.

It was known that the internees did not even have soap or antibacterial hand gel to protect themselves from the virus. “In his opinion, this expert compared the centers to a pump that spreads the disease and spreads the virus to the rest of the population through the staff,” said Sankey.

Miserable conditions

There is no maximum time limit for UK deportation decisions. Many wait years for judgment, and under miserable conditions. “The new instruction not only means more safety for health but also saves time, which means that the cases can be processed more legally,” said Sankey.

Many could now return to their families in the UK. The government even had to look for accommodation for people without a family or without a permanent home.

The UK Home Office responded to TEH‘s request as if it were all taken for granted. “Our immigration office is responding to unique circumstances and is following the current advice of the state health authority.” The well-being of the interned and the staff is of the utmost importance, it was said. Those who were classified as particularly dangerous would remain in detention.

Generally has in the British prisons but so far have not done much in terms of the welfare of inmates inside. After all, there are more soap and hygiene products. Visits are no longer possible, however. Relatives and acquaintances can instead leave sound recordings or write letters.

Too little protective clothing

But on Thursday even the Association of Heads of British Prisons complained that this was not enough. Not only is the staff under increasing pressure due to illnesses, but there is also a lack of protective clothing.


In addition, inmates and staff were not adequately tested for the virus, it said in a press release. The association recommends that prisoners who pose a lower risk be released early, especially women.

Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, an organization working to improve conditions in British prisons, told TEH that such measures were not a priority in the current government. “The political direction so far has been to increase the sentence and build more prisons.”

Nevertheless, he admitted that early layoffs are not always easy. Some people needed a lot of support after they were released. Here the government needed to better support many of the small organizations that normally did this work.

After all, there have been new regulations for parole after release from prison this week. Officials should visit those affected at home, but maintain the social distance necessary for Covid-19. So far, those affected have had to report to the police regularly, which was cumbersome, Dawson said.


New technologies such as conversations via the Internet are also planned. Dawson sees this as a positive development that could lead to a more humane treatment of perpetrators on probation after the crisis.