31 October 2022: Institute of Race Relations: From GPS tagging to facial recognition watches: expanding the surveillance of migrants in the UK

Written by Lucie Audibert (Lawyer and Legal Officer, Privacy International) & Monish Bhatia (Lecturer in Criminology, Birkbeck, University of London)

Through its use of GPS tags and smartwatches in immigration enforcement, the UK is extending the reach of surveillance and control of migrants to frightening levels.

In early August, we learned that the Ministry of Justice had awarded a £6m contract for ‘facial recognition smartwatches’ to be worn by foreign national offenders. The devices will track their GPS location 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and will require them to scan their faces up to five times a day. The information obtained from the devices, including names, date of birth, nationality, photographs, and location data, will be stored for up to six years and may be accessed by the Home Office and shared with law and border enforcement agencies.

Continue reading “Tagging”

Aderonke Apata – detained in Yarls Wood and now a barrister

This is a story of real hope, and rising above the hostile system. Congratulations Aderonke Apata:

22 October 2022: Guardian: Barrister says she became legal expert while in Home Office immigration detention

Aderonke Apata says she has Home Office to thank for career as she fought removal to Nigeria

A refugee who has just been called to the bar says she has the Home Office to thank for her career after she became an amateur legal expert while locked up in a detention centre.

Aderonke Apata, 55, from Nigeria, said she was proud to take part in a ceremony last week where she, along with dozens of other newly qualified barristers, were formally called to the bar.

Apata was almost forcibly removed from the UK on a Home Office charter flight to Nigeria in January 2013 after her asylum claim, based on the fact that as a lesbian who had been persecuted in Nigeria her life would be in danger if she was returned there, was rejected.

Apata had completed a degree in microbiology before fleeing Nigeria and hoped to pursue a career in public health in the UK.

She was detained in Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre in Bedfordshire, which at the time was used mainly for women, from the end of 2011 until the beginning of 2013, including a week spent in solitary confinement in 2012.

During her time in Yarl’s Wood, more women – who either could not understand English or did not understand what the Home Office had written in refusal letters about their immigration claims – turned to Apata for help in explaining what was happening with their legal cases.

Continue reading “Aderonke Apata – detained in Yarls Wood and now a barrister”

ICIBI – An inspection of the use of hotels for housing unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) March – May 2022

19 October 2022: ICIBI – An inspection of the use of hotels for housing unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) March – May 2022

This inspection examined the use of hotels to accommodate unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, with particular reference to the Home Office’s duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who are in the United Kingdom.

An inspection of the use of hotels for housing unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) March – May 2022

Details: This inspection was not included in the Chief Inspector’s original 2021–2022 Inspection Plan but is a response to concerns raised with the inspectorate by stakeholders, and from the inspectorate’s own intelligence-gathering activities.

Extract added by QARN: symptomatic of how this system runs

4.15 In all but one of the hotels, the kitchens were permanently closed, and food had to be provided from another location. All the young people had every meal served in take-away containers as the use of plates was, according to contractor staff, not included in the contracts. The food was of mixed quality and the way in which it was provided missed an opportunity to create a more child-centred environment.

Continue reading “ICIBI – An inspection of the use of hotels for housing unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) March – May 2022”

ICIBI: report published – family visas, fees and more

18 October 2022: ICIBI – Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration: Inspection Report Published: An inspection of the Home Office’s processing of family visas September 2021 – February 2022

This inspection examined the Home Office’s processing of indefinite leave to remain applications on the family visa route

The inspection report focused on:

  • the efficiency of the process and the quality of decisions
  • the accessibility of the application process for applicants
  • the impact on an applicant (and their family) when they are placed on a 10-year route to settlement
  • whether assurances are in place to ensure that discretion is being exercised in decision-making, where appropriate, to put the applicant at the forefront of the process.

Publishing the report, David Neal, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI), said:

Continue reading “ICIBI: report published – family visas, fees and more”

The phasing out of biometric resident permit (BRP) cards – responses from Tom Pursglove

Two QARN members have received replied to questions about the phasing out of Biometric Cards.  There is much repetition in the two responses below, but also some differences, so you will find them both below:

Letter 1:  I am replying as the Minister of State for Immigration. 

You have asked about the rationale for removing BRPs. Like other countries, we are developing a digital borders and immigration system, which means, over time, we will increasingly replace physical and paper-based products and services, such as BRPs, with eVisas. These can be accessed via the online ‘View and Prove’ service on GOV.UK. This service is available at any time and allows a person to share relevant information about their status securely with third parties, such as employers or public and private service providers. Unlike a physical document, which can be lost or stolen, digital documents are more secure. The policy is being rolled out incrementally, with the aim of a fully digital system by the end of 2024. Continue reading “The phasing out of biometric resident permit (BRP) cards – responses from Tom Pursglove”

Lift the Ban coalition gathering 2022

A chance for Lift the Ban campaigners to come together as a coalition to celebrate our progress and plan our next steps.

About this Event: We are holding a national Lift the Ban coalition gathering!

Date: Wednesday 2nd November

Location: Resource for London, 356 Holloway Road, London, N7 6PA

Timings: 11:30 – 17:00 (lunch provided)


This is a chance to come together and celebrate all the progress we have made in the past few years. We will also discuss and plan our next steps towards lifting the ban on working for people seeking asylum.

We welcome both new and seasoned Lift the Ban campaigners from all over the UK.

Continue reading “Lift the Ban coalition gathering 2022”

I Was Not Born a Sad Poet

People who have been to QARN and StatusNow4All events will most likely know that one of the StatusNow CoChairs, Loraine Masiya Mponela is an amazing poet who bring to life the experiences of people living without status through her words.

We congratulate Loraine, and welcome the publication of her first book of poetry:

“I Was Not Born a Sad Poet”

You can read more about the book, Loraine, and her poetry on her website here

We all benefit from refugee empowerment

Anila Noor: Refugees want a real say in decisions shaping their lives: here’s how that could happen…

The phrase “meaningful participation of refugees” has become an important buzz phrase in the humanitarian sector.

In this blog, Anila Noor draws on a recent paper to set out what refugee-led organisations are looking for in the run-up to next year’s crucial Global Refugee Forum – and top of the list is enough seats at the table: she says 25% of participants at the forum should be refugees.

Other key recommendations include calls for more support for refugee empowerment and for organisations such as the Global Refugee-led network; and for NGOs to do some “deep soul-searching” to ensure diversity in staffing to include displaced people. 

Read the blog and the associated paper.