Home > Cases > R (T) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2007] EWHC 3074 (Admin)

The claimant was a Jamaican national. In June 2002, he entered the United Kingdom as a visitor, and thereafter, was granted leave to remain for six months. He then applied for leave to remain as a student, which was subsequently granted. An asylum claim was made several years later. In March 2005, he was charged with murder and conspiracy to burgle with intent to steal. He was acquitted of the former charge, and convicted of the latter, for which a sentence of two years’ imprisonment was imposed. In November 2006, the defendant Secretary of State made a deportation order against him. On 1 December, he became eligible for release having served most of his sentence. Three days later, he was served with the deportation order, and detained at HMP Belmarsh. During his detention in that prison, he was verbally threatened and physically assaulted by other inmates, who had become aware that he had worked as an informant for the police. As a result of the assaults, he was transferred to the ‘vulnerable prisoner unit’ (VPU), and thereafter, to an immigration removal centre (IRC) at Dover. A risk assessment was undertaken which concluded that the claimant would be at risk to serious assaults by other detainees at the IRC if he was to remain there. A form dealing with changes to risk factors identified that the claimant had been located in a separation unit for his own protection and that his removal to a different centre was required as a matter of urgency. In consequence of those conclusions, the claimant was moved to HMP High Down, where he was accommodated from time to time in a shared cell with convicted prisoners. On one occasion, he was attacked by an inmate, and as a result, was transferred to the VPU. In July, he was transferred to an IRC at Colnbrook. An assessment concluded that long term protective custody could not be provided at Colnbrook, given the fact that Carribean nationals who were detained there would recognise the claimant and that there was a risk that they would inflict injury upon him. Accordingly, a recommendation was made for the claimant to be transferred to HMP High Down. That transfer was subsequently effected. After spending some time in the VPU, the claimant, upon a successful request, spent approximately one month in a segregation unit, before being transferred to HMP Lewes. With an appeal against the refusal of his asylum claim pending, he applied for judicial review contending that the Immigration Service, and in particular, the Secretary of State, had acted unlawfully by failing to provide him with safe accommodation in an IRC.

Reliance was placed on Strasbourg jurisprudence, in submitting that arts 3, 5 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as set out in Sch 1 of Pt 1 to the Human Rights Act 1998, had been engaged. In relation to art 3, the claimant submitted that that article did not merely require the state to protect persons against violence at the hands of others, but that it required the state to ensure that prison conditions did not cause unnecessary suffering, particularly where a detainee had been subjected to a penal regime that would cause him such suffering when his behaviour had not justified that regime. In relation to art 5, he submitted that that article had been violated on account of the lack of a ‘relationship’ between the grounds for his detention and the facilities, namely the prisons, in which he had been held. In relation to art 8, he submitted that that article had been violated as detention in a prison environment as opposed to an IRC constituted a disproportionate limitation to his opportunities for association, namely with visitors, and his privacy.

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