Who are we?
The AIRE Centre is a specialist legal charity. We challenge breaches of European and international law through the provision of legal advice and representation to the most vulnerable and marginalised alongside research, policy advocacy and strategic litigation.
We need your support to bring our legal challenge in the Court of Appeal against a joint Met Police and Home Office initiative, Operation Nexus, that allows people to be deported from the UK without any convictions. Please contribute and share this page.
What is the case?
Operation Nexus, a little-known arrangement between the police and Home Office, is changing the UK’s approach to deportation.
It was supposed to be aimed at ‘high harm’ foreign offenders. But the Home Office has cast its net far wider than that to include people with minor convictions, even if they are old or spent, as well as people who have had encounters with the police which fell short of conviction (such as an acquittal).There is no definition of 'high harm'. In 2014 the government admitted it had left it up to individual police forces to determine who came under its scope.
What are we trying to do?
Our challenge is based on two grounds;
- If you are an EEA citizen and arrested or ‘encountered’ by the police in England and Wales, you will be subject to automatic verification about whether you are exercising EU Treaty Rights. This is irrespective of any ‘reasonable doubt’. We think that this wrong and inappropriate as well as an oppressive misuse of police powers. Help us change it.
- If you are interviewed by the police under Operation Nexus then you will not have the right to a lawyer (or the any of the other usual protections available under PACE). We believe that this is draconian and unlawful.
Why it is so important?
Operation Nexus, first launched in London in 2012, is part of creating what Theresa May, as home secretary, has called a ‘hostile environment’ towards ‘illegal’ or undesired migrants including EU nationals. Since 2012 over 3000 people have been removed.
The purpose of gathering the information is not to conduct a criminal investigation but to identify individuals, even if they have committed no criminal offence, who could be deported.
Take the case of Christina (not her real name), a woman who came to the UK following her sentence for being a drug mule – something she says she was forced into by traffickers. To get away from her traffickers she came to the UK to start a new life, but found things very difficult, and contemplated suicide. She was seen by passer-by on a London Bridge who, concerned about her welfare, called the police. When the police arrived however she was taken to a nearby police station, and the fact that she was an EU national brought her to the attention of the Home Office. They discovered her earlier conviction, and she was subsequently detained at the notorious Yarls Wood immigration detention centre awaiting her deportation. Even after she was granted immigration bail, the Home Office banned her from working, so she had no income and could not pay her rent. She was threatened with eviction and forced to rely on food banks. Eventually she won her deportation appeal, as both someone who was a recognised victim of trafficking and as someone who did not represent a risk in the UK
More widely, Nexus also seems to give the police the power to carry out checks, even where there is no reasonable suspicion of a criminal offence being committed. This should alarm us all.
How can you help?
We can’t do this without you.
The AIRE Centre continues to act pro bono in this case, with the assistance of Deighton Pierce Glynn and counsel from Matrix Chambers.
We have been granted permission to appeal the High Court judgment last year. We have a protected costs order which limits our costs of the legal challenge to a fixed figure. However, as a charity, we have to raise money to meet that figure because we do not have sufficient resources of our own. Without this help, we will simply not be able to continue bring this important legal challenge.
We need to raise £11,000 to make it possible. Initially we are raising £5,000 to cover costs but eventually we need the full amount so we need your help.
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