UK Court of Appeal: lack of adequate procedures for mentally ill migrants in detention centres

Friday, February 2, 2018

On 2 February 2018, the England and Wales Court of Appeal delivered its judgment in case VC, R (On the Application Of) v SSHD, which concerned a mentally ill appellant who had been detained for almost 1 year under immigration powers and been transferred to a psychiatric hospital. The appellant had argued that the Secretary of State was under a duty to ensure that adequate policies were in place to avoid difficulties encountered by disabled detainees before such difficulties materialised. The Court of Appeal found that the lack of an automatic independent review of immigration detention put mentally ill detainees at a substantial disadvantage. While in other detention contexts there are regular reviews on the lawfulness of detention, in immigration detention only a bail application could initiate an independent review of the detention. The Court of Appeal ruled that since mentally ill detainees might lack the ability to initiate a bail application, they are unjustifiably discriminated against.

The Court of Appeal concluded that the duties of the Secretary of State were sufficiently wide to allow her to incorporate a system to assist mentally ill detainees in making the relevant representations against their detention and that the Secretary of State was not relieved from doing so on the basis of general concerns about costs.


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Vulnerable person