“I want to share something about my reporting experience with you and the reasons why I think it’s important to challenge it. First of all, I want to let you know [any] UK Reporting Centre is an awful place to go. In the past I was asked to report in the Home Office for many years, and my experience was very horrible. What I went through was emotional torture – there were so many fears of the unknown in my life and reporting was a constant reminder of that.
Whenever I went to report, I was always detained for hours. The excuse they gave for detaining me was that I had an interview with an officer. But it is all lies…
But I want the UK Reporting Centres to be abolished. It is inhumane and I know many people including myself who have suffered a lot because of reporting: it leads to high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and even heart failure and suicidal ideation. The UK asylum system is not fair and is very very poor – so many years of waiting in tortured fear of the unknown was too much for anyone to bear and it messes people’s lives up.”
-PE, Migrants Organise Member
Immigration reporting is the requirement to regularly “check in” or sign in at a Home Office Reporting Centre. Anyone subject to immigration control, including those who are waiting for a final decision on their application to live in the UK (such as people seeking asylum), can be asked to report.
Immigration reporting is part of the Home Office’s Immigration Bail system, introduced under the Immigration Act 2016. Under the Act, at least one bail condition needs to be imposed. Immigration reporting is one of the most imposed conditions. As of September 2019, 76.4% of individuals who are put on bail are given a reporting condition (equivalent to more than 83,000 individuals).
Reporting Is Unnecessary, Unfair Harassment
Migrants Organise produced a research report in January 2020, funded by the Strategic Legal Fund, which outlines how reporting conditions often place an unreasonable physical, psychological and/or financial burden on migrants. While the Home Office maintains that reporting conditions are not meant to be punitive, the practice proves otherwise: many people face degrading and discriminatory treatment at reporting centres – they are also often forcibly asked to attend redocumentation interviews, or even detained and removed. It is the constant threat of detention that can make reporting especially stressful.
Abdul who had to report to the East Midlands Reporting Centre in Loughborough for many years during his asylum claim told us:
“I know that Loughborough is a lovely place because I have seen pictures and read about it in the library. But when I go there to report, I am so frightened I forget to look.”
Many people report for a long time, often for years until their immigration case is resolved. The Home Office also regularly imposes inappropriate reporting conditions without due regard to individual’s safety and welfare. For example, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures in March 2020, the Home Office initially refused to suspend physical reporting conditions, risking the safety and lives of not just migrant communities but the wider public. Migrants Organise intervened, which led to the suspension of physical reporting during the first lockdown.
The Home Office claims that this system is to keep in touch with people about their applications, and, laughably, to provide “support” to vulnerable people. There is no support, only intimidation, racism, bullying and threats of deportation. We know of one person accused of working illegally, just because they arrived wearing smart clothes. The implicit threat was that their asylum support could be stopped, leaving them homeless and destitute.
Reporting Is Part of the Hostile Immigration Environment
Reporting is just one of the ways that this government exercises its intentionally cruel hostile environment immigration policy. The imposition of mandatory reporting conditions is criminalisation of migrants on a wide scale. This form of insidious and persistent surveillance of migrants is violent and dehumanising. It contributes to a deteriorating standard of living for migrants in this country and is a constant reminder for people seeking better lives that they are not welcome here.
The hostile environment has been challenged and many aspects of it have been declared unlawful. Yet, this government continues its rhetoric of hate against migrants, most recently in the form of the Nationality and Borders Bill. This Bill which is currently making its way through Parliament will make life even more intolerable for people seeking safety and refuge in this country. It is imperative that we come together to resist this Bill through actions highlighting the injustices of the hostile environment and proposed plans to extend it.
Our Call to Action: #AbolishReporting NOW!
In March 2021 we launched the Abolish Reporting campaign. The campaign builds on over a year of resistance to reporting conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 200 people attended our first online meeting. Since then, campaigners across Britain have joined the movement to abolish reporting, including many campaigners with direct experience of the reporting system. The campaign has also garnered support from local MPs such as Olivia Blake.
In July 2021, community members across the country took part in the first Abolish Reporting national day of action. We demonstrated outside six of the 12 Reporting Centres in Britain and online to voice our four demands:
- We demand an end to reporting conditions, for everyone.
- We will break the silence through sharing our experiences and encourage others to do so.
- We demand that those of you who witness and support us with reporting also take action to advocate for the abolition of reporting.
- The Home Office must immediately move to alternative ways of staying in contact, such as email, text, or phone.
We need you to help us stand with our migrant neighbours. Please take action to help abolish the cruel practice of immigration reporting, so that our communities are welcoming places of safety.
The Abolish Reporting campaign is a decentralised campaign. It is facilitated by These Walls Must Fall and Migrants Organise, but we encourage local community groups and organisations to take the lead and challenge reporting conditions at regional level, responding to the most pressing issues in the area. There are 14 reporting centres all around the UK and there are many changes that each local manager can implement. You can find your nearest Reporting Centre here.
We are currently already organising in Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Solihull, Sheffield, and London, and we hope to expand into areas near other Reporting Centres.
If you are interested in learning more or getting involved with the campaign, please email [email protected] and we’ll get back to you to discuss, and perhaps organise an information session or phone call with you and people in your area!
Thank you to Rosie Huzzard, Organiser, These Walls Must Fall (Yorkshire), Right to Remain for this article.