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The latest policy on reporting conditions


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In January this year, the Home Office updated its guidance on reporting conditions, again. Version 6 was published on 19 January 2023, replacing version 5 which was in place for less than six months, from 30 June 2022.

Version 5

Version 5 was very much a welcome development in terms of reporting conditions. It adopted the interim guidance introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and introduced a “blended approach” to reporting, where most individuals would be put on telephone or digital reporting with the possibility of being called back for physical reporting from time to time.

The guidance was clear that an individual should be put on blended reporting, unless they fall into one of five specific categories, namely:

  1. Foreign national offenders (FNOs)/High Harm/Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) or restricted access cases or persons who are on Restricted Leave.
  2. Those who have shown a willingness to return home voluntarily and where reporting will aid the process of return.
  3. Those who have not returned home and who have not engaged with our Voluntary Return programme
  4. Those identified for removal.
  5. Those who are not immediately removable but have failed to comply with telephone reporting and are currently ‘out of contact’.

Version 5 also made it very clear that new asylum applicants should not be required to report. For example, under the section “liability to report” the guidance said:

“New asylum applicants will not be required to report until a negative decision is made on their application, unless exceptional circumstances apply, for example the applicant is also a foreign national offender (FNO), a restricted access case, a [Third Country Unit] case, these will be decided on a case by case basis.”

Similar statements can be found throughout the guidance.

Version 6.0

The current version of the Reporting and Offender Management policy disappointingly retreats from these developments.

References to first-time asylum applicants not having to report have now been completely removed.

The blended reporting approach remains, and the guidance still makes clear on page 15 that individuals should be put on blended reporting unless they fall into the five categories listed above.

The new guidance however now adds a table of suggested type and frequency of reporting on page 13. While such a table is typically a good idea, in this instance it actually creates a lack of clarity. For example, the table suggests different reporting conditions for adults who don’t have criminal records (“non FNO”) depending on whether they have an “open asylum” application, “open appeal”, “judicial review” or “outstanding application”.

There are no clear reasons as to why these cases deserve different treatment and, in any case, if an individual does not fall within the five categories then they should still be eligible for telephone reporting.

The table also risks contradicting its own general instruction for an individualised assessment:

“You must consider the specific facts of the case when deciding an individual’s reporting schedule. Such considerations may include vulnerability, removability, interventions necessary to facilitate case progression / conclusion or prompt enforcement action, assessed risk of harm to the general public and risk of absconding.”

Not Reading Their Own Policy

Such inconsistencies and lack of clarity risk poor decisions being made by front-line caseworkers when deciding on appropriate bail and reporting conditions. We believe that a reporting centre caseworker could read the table on page 13 of the guidance and deny a change to telephone reporting. Or read page 15 and make the opposite decision. This is not a well-written policy.

In the months since the implementation of the policy, we have heard many anecdotal experiences of the Home Office refusing to implement telephone reporting. People who have not been asked to report in person since before the pandemic have now been asked to resume, as well as those who have never reported. Certain nationalities, such as Albanians, also seem to have been targeted by the Home Office for physical reporting, which is likely to be discriminatory.

Reporting conditions, particularly physical reporting, can have very detrimental impacts on individuals and families, and this has been well documented (see for example Migrants Organise/Public Law Project report, Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Units report , and these testimonies of individuals who have had to report). It’s more than an administrative burden. Research has found that the deep fear and stress of reporting was having a severe impact on mental health, wellbeing and family life.

The introduction of telephone and digital reporting in the policy, while not perfect, was certainly a step in the right direction in creating an immigration system that treats individuals with dignity. But a policy can only be as good as its implementation. We are concerned that many Reporting Centres are not following their own policy properly.

What does this mean?

Challenging individual reporting conditions remains crucial in ensuring that telephone reporting is implemented as it’s supposed to be. Migrants Organise has produced a guide for caseworkers and support workers on challenging reporting conditions.

Based on our research and experience, individuals often do not discuss reporting conditions and their difficulties until asked. The compliance rate for reporting conditions is extremely high and individuals often force themselves to comply with reporting conditions despite struggling. Our Freedom of Information request confirmed that the absconding rate in 2020 was 1%. In 2019, before the pandemic, the absconding rate was only 3%. It is important to ask the individuals you are working with about reporting conditions and to challenge reporting conditions where possible.

The backtrack between version 6 and version 5 of the guidance clearly shows the need for a concerted effort to keep the pressure on the Home Office for systemic change, while ensuring that individuals are also assisted.

This post has been co-authored by Rivka Shaw from Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit.

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Brian Dikoff

Brian Dikoff is Legal Organiser at Migrants Organise.