“No Such Thing as Justice Here”: The Criminalisation of People Arriving to the UK on ‘Small Boats’ - Research Report Launch

Thursday 7 March 2024


Sonali Naik KC

Jennifer Twite

Vicky Taylor

Maddie Harris

Francesca Parks

This event is brought to you by the Garden Court Chambers Immigration and Crime Teams.

Date: Thursday 7 March 2024
Time: 6pm-7:30pm, followed by drinks & networking
Venue: Chambers & Online  
Cost: Free
Areas of Law: Immigration Detention, Asylum and Deportation , Immigration Law , Criminal Defence

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Join us for the launch of the research report:No Such Thing as Justice Here”: The Criminalisation of People Arriving to the UK on ‘Small Boats’.

This report, published by the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford and Border Criminologies, shows how people have been imprisoned for their arrival on a ‘small boat’ since the Nationality and Borders Act (2022) came into force. It details the process from sea to prison, and explains how prosecutions under Section 24 ‘illegal arrival’ and Section 25 ‘facilitation’ of the Immigration Act 1971 (as amended) are experienced by those affected. The report shows how people seeking asylum are being imprisoned for their ‘illegal arrival’, as well as victims of trafficking, torture, and children with ongoing age disputes.

Analysis is based on observations of over one hundred hearings where people seeking asylum were prosecuted for their own illegal arrival, or for facilitating the arrival of others through steering the dinghy they travelled on. The report is informed by the detailed casework experience of Humans for Rights Network (HfRN), Captain Support UK, and Refugee Legal Support. It also draws on data collected through Freedom of Information requests, and research interviews with lawyers, interpreters, and people who have been criminalised for crossing the Channel on a ‘small boat’. 

Please click here to access HfRN and Captain Support’s collective fundraiser which will resource casework of criminalised unaccompanied children conducted by HfRN and provide direct support to individuals in prison including social visits conducted by Captain Support. 

This event will be formed by a panel discussion, followed by a discussion. We encourage the attendance of people working in the migrant justice sector broadly. 


Speaker Bios

Sonali Naik KC, Garden Court Chambers (Chair)
Sonali Naik KC specialises in public law cases and in all aspects of immigration, asylum and nationality law and practice. She was appointed King’s Counsel in 2018 and conducts almost exclusively leading work at all levels: the European Court of Human Rights, the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the Administrative Court and the Upper Tribunal in statutory appeals and judicial reviews. She was one of the winners of a Highly Commended Award at the Lawyer Awards 2022 for a pro bono initiative to assist Afghan judges secure UK visas. In 2023, Sonali was listed in The Lawyer magazine’s Hot 100 list, which recognises excellence in the legal profession.

Jennifer Twite, Garden Court Chambers
Jennifer is a specialist in youth justice and children’s rights. Her public law practice involves taking challenges regarding the disclosure of criminal records, criminal-justice-related judicial reviews and community care. Jennifer has been involved in a number of age assessment cases involving unaccompanied age-disputed individuals.

Victoria Taylor, University of Oxford
Vicky Taylor (she/her) is a DPhil candidate at the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford, and Associate Director of Border Criminologies. Her PhD research looks at the politics of border policing in and across the English Channel. This project is supervised by Professor Mary Bosworth and supported by the Economic and Social Research Council, and Balliol College's Dervorguilla Scholarship. Vicky holds a BA in Geography from the University of Cambridge (Double First), and an MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies from the University of Oxford (Distinction). Prior to starting her DPhil, she worked as a Senior Researcher in the UK Civil Service (Fast Stream) across the policy areas of asylum, irregular migration, and resettlement.

Maddie Harris, Humans for Rights Network
Maddie Harris is the Director and Founder of Humans for Rights Network (HfRN). HfRN is a need led Human Rights organisation, established to facilitate safety & dignity for people forced to migrate, to advocate for a rights-based approach to the movement of people throughout Northern Europe, and to represent humans whose rights are violated.  We are led and informed by the Migrants we work with and collaborate to address mistreatment and challenge systemic and structural racism & discrimination and the harmful impact of these. Its current focus is on the UK/France border, and on working with those subjected to harm by the hostile immigration policies of the UK government. Maddie has conducted cross border work with people forced to migrate and subjected to hostile border regimes in France and Belgium for almost 10 years, initially as an independent volunteer in Dunkirk, France and Thessaloniki, Greece, before setting up Humans for Rights Network in 2017.

Francesca Parkes, Refugee Legal Support
Francesca Parkes (she/her) is the Northern France Coordinator at Refugee Legal Support. Her work focuses on sharing legal information with people on the move in Calais. For the last year she has been working with asylum seekers criminalised on arrival in the UK. She also coordinates a forum of criminal, immigration and public law practitioners working to support these clients and challenge these practices.

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