Many of my constituents, including current asylum seekers, have written to me to raise their significant concerns with immigration bail reporting and how the current system is putting them, and others, at risk of infection to covid-19.
Individuals subject to immigration bail reporting conditions are required to attend Home Office reporting centres at set dates and times.
Such conditions were previously suspended for the duration of the first lockdown in line with the Government’s guidance that all individuals should avoid non- essential use of public transport and non-essential gatherings in public spaces. Following the suspension people were permitted to report by telephone or text.
However since the start of the second national lockdown, asylum seekers & trafficking victims with reporting conditions have been informed that they must continue to attend Home Office Reporting centres, or face breaking their immigration bail conditions.
Asylum seekers have raised with me that they feel the current system creates a “death trap” for refugees and asylum seekers, who are forced to choose between travelling to report and risk infection, or not and being threatened with deportation. Sheffield resident Simba Mujakachi, who moved to the UK from Zimbabwe as a teenager in 2004, and has to report to the Home Office regularly told me:
“Going to report is very, very stressful as you don’t know if you’re going to be let out or detained. You don’t get support from the Home Office, you have to find your own way there, which is very difficult. And you’re made to feel like a criminal for asking for a home.”
As the first lockdown showed, it is not necessary to report in-person, as reporting conditions can be managed through other means. Requiring in-person reporting usually entails using public transportation and waiting in confined spaces with others who are reporting, which constitutes a serious risk of infection and undermines efforts to minimise the spread of the coronavirus.
It is therefore vital the Home Office immediately suspend all immigration bail reporting conditions – to minimise stress, anxiety and risk of infection for asylum seekers and greatly bolster our efforts to control the spread of the virus.
I have contacted the Home Secretary about this issue and written this Early Day Motion, signed by 10 of my colleagues and supported by campaign groups Migrants Organise and These Walls Must Fall, calling for in-person reporting to be immediately suspended. I am asking MPs from across the parties to sign. You can ask your MP to support the campaign here:
I have also spoken about this issue on BBC Radio Sheffield. You can listen to the clip below.