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Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002

Section 67: Construction of reference to a person liable to detention

185.A person who is liable to be detained, or who is actually detained, under the powers contained in the Immigration Acts, may instead be granted temporary admission or temporary release. This status may be subject to restrictions such as requiring the person concerned to live at a particular address and/or to report to the police or an immigration officer.

186.The powers to detain in immigration legislation do not specify a maximum period beyond which a person cannot be detained. However, for the detention to be lawful, it has to be for the purpose stated, and the person may only be detained for a period that is reasonable in all the circumstances of the particular case. Thus, for example, where a person is detained under paragraph 16(2) of Schedule 2 to the 1971 Act pending a decision whether or not to give directions for their removal or, where such directions have been given, pending their removal, they can only be detained for as long as the event can reasonably be described as “pending”. Once that point has been passed, the detention is no longer lawful.

187.Where this occurs, the practice has been to grant temporary release, generally subject to the conditions described above.

188.A judgment by the High Court in July 2002 (in the case of Hwez and Khadir) held that this practice was unlawful. The judge in that case held that the phrase “liable to detention” in paragraph 21 of Schedule 2 to the 1971 Act did not relate to the categories of person subject to immigration control who could, at some point, be detained, but rather was limited to those cases where the individual concerned could lawfully be detained at that precise moment. Thus, once the point was reached where the power to detain no longer existed, the alternative of temporary release subject to conditions was no longer available either. Similar considerations would apply to deportation cases, where the power to detain or release subject to restrictions is contained in Schedule 3 to the 1971 Act, rather than Schedule 2.

189.The purpose of this section is to avoid a situation where people subject to immigration control, who do not have leave to be here, but who cannot lawfully be detained, are left at large without there being any way of keeping track of them. The power to impose reporting and residence conditions on asylum seekers and others while their claims to remain in the United Kingdom are being considered is for contact management purposes, and this power is dependant on there being a power to grant temporary admission or release.

190.As subsection (1)(a) makes clear, this section does not affect the scope of the current powers to detain. It only applies to provisions which do not actually confer a power to detain. What it does is define what a reference in immigration legislation to being “liable to detention” means, making it clear that the term includes cases where the only reason the person cannot be detained at that precise moment is one of those specified in subsection (2).

191.The effect of this is that the people concerned can be given temporary admission or release (under Schedule 2 to the 1971 Act) or released on conditions (under Schedule 3) even where they may not lawfully be detained under the detention powers in, respectively, Schedule 2 and Schedule 3 to the 1971 Act.

192.Subsection (3) gives the section retrospective effect, thus avoiding the need to reassess the cases of persons on temporary admission on an individual basis. Because the provision will always have applied, it has the effect of validating the authorisation of temporary admission and restrictions imposed.

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