Home Office to review detention of pregnant women

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Following a groundbreaking challenge by a pregnant asylum seeker, known as PA, the Home Secretary has agreed to review the policy on detention of pregnant women. The asylum seeker was unlawfully arrested and detained at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre.

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Stephanie Harrison QC and Michelle Brewer of Garden Court Chambers acted for the claimant.

The Home Office has apologised to the claimant, agreed to review its policy on pregnant women in detention, issue a new Detention Service Order and pay compensation for unlawful detention. See the court order and documents here and the Guardian coverage here.

Stephanie Harrison QC said:

"This is another important case in which the Home Office have conceded that they have acted unlawfully in respect of another highly vulnerable category of detainee, this time pregnant women. The case is indicative of a systemic failure to properly apply published policy which only allows for the detention of a pregnant woman in exceptional circumstances and when removal is imminent.

"No removal directions were or could be set in this case. PA was detained not for removal, but for the purposes of obtaining a travel document.  This was an abuse of power.  PA’s experience also confirms the inadequacy of  medical and antenatal care in Yarl’s Wood. The pregnancy policy and indeed Yarl’s Wood is not fit for purpose and an urgent review is clearly required".

Stephanie Harrison QC and Michelle Brewer are members of the Garden Court Chambers immigration team. They were instructed by Janet Farrell and Jane Ryan of Bhatt Murphy solicitors.

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