London’s independent Victims’ Commissioner has found that victims of crimes such as domestic and sexual abuse fail to report them out of fear of the immigration authorities.
The Victims’ Commissioner has been working closely with victims who are too frightened to report crimes and who are forced to remain in abusive relationships because of their immigration status. In one case (of many), the husband reportedly controlled all of the household’s finances, kept one of twin babies at home when the wife was allowed out to ensure she would not flee and regularly abused her. The husband told the wife that if she phoned the police she would be arrested and deported because she was an illegal immigrant and could only stay in the UK as long as she was married to him. He also said the court would award the custody of the children to him because she had no money and could not speak English.
When she eventually summoned up the courage to contact the police, they confirmed her fears by telling her she had no rights. She thereafter became the offender in an immigration case and not the victim in a domestic abuse case.
In light of incidents such as this, the Metropolitan Police Service has agreed to work with the Victims’ Commissioner to improve how cases are handled, for example by introducing a set of guidelines and principles on how to respond to victims with insecure immigration status for all immigration officials.
Further, Sadiq Khan and London’s independent Victims’ Commissioner made a joint call this month on the Home Secretary to act urgently to protect victims of crime with insecure immigration status. They have called for:
- The reinstatement of legal aid for immigration cases to ensure those with insecure status can access independent advice and support;
- Victims of violence to be entitled to financial support and safe accommodation in order to leave an abusive relationship, irrespective of their immigrations status; and
- Operational guidelines on how to respond to victims with insecure immigration status, including prioritising safety and support over immigration offences.
Gherson has over 30 years of experience in assisting with various immigration matters. Should you wish to speak to a member of our team, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.