Testimony about special bail conditions’ intrusive impact on personal life reinforces the concerns recently expressed by Lord Carlile, the parliamentary anti-terror watchdog about control orders.
We publish an excerpted version of the verbatim account compiled by the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC) from Mr Qavi, who was a bail-accommodation provider for someone released by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission on bail conditions – which are even more restrictive than control orders.
I came in contact with Mr S for the first time, on 19th April, 2005, when, before Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, I undertook to provide a bail address for him. He stayed with me in my flat for about 4 weeks, after which he moved to a NASS-provided accommodation elsewhere. On the morning of 15th September 2005 he was, in a highly publicised raid, arrested and taken to Long Lartin. He was ordered released by SIAC [Special Immigration Appeals Commission] on 17th January, 2006 on bail conditions which are more restrictive than the control orders system. The bail conditions of his release oblige Mr S to wear a tag at all times, to report to the police station every day between 12 noon to 2 pm, not to leave the bail address at all times save for the period from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm etc. His movements are restricted to a marked area which he is required not to leave. He is forbidden to receive any visitor other than his solicitor while staying at my place. The police and Immigration personnel and others working on behalf of Home Secretary can call at any time and without prior notice to enter the bail residence to check on him.
I offered to stand surety and provide him a bail address early in December 2005. On this occasion, the Home Office chose to impose “surety conditions” in drips, seemingly designed to prolong the process and to dissuade me from providing a bail address by sheer unreasonableness of the conditions they initially sought to impose. The result being that Mr S’s release on bail was delayed for weeks.
The “surety conditions” require me not to permit my friends, neighbours and acquaintances to enter my residence unless I provide the visitor’s name, address, date of birth and a photograph at least 3 days beforehand to the Home Office and seek its approval as to the time and date and the expected duration of the visit. My lap top can be inspected and taken away for up to 48 hours. My residence can be entered by police and immigration officials at any time without prior notice, etc. The “surety conditions” are grossly restrictive and infringe on my civil liberties as a British citizen. I have been obliged to place myself and my residence under quarantine in order to seek the release of a friendless, young asylum seeker from unjust and unlawful imprisonment.
Since 17th January 2006 my home has been visited by various police and immigration people on three difference occasions – all without notice and at abrupt hours of their choosing. The last visit took place on Saturday 28th January 2006 when 3 officials called at 6.30 pm, just as I had sat down with my newspaper. They wanted to check the tagging equipment. For the next 50 minutes they wandered around all over my place in their unclean shoes, checking each and every corner over and over again. They tacked a lead of wire to one of the door frames and fixed a portable antenna for their equipment to the top of the door. A hideous sight which none of the “surety conditions” say they are allowed to do.
At odd hours and for no discernible reason, the tagging company telephones to enquire of Mr S where he was 3 minutes or 7 minutes ago. At other times, the tagging company rings and when Mr S picks up the telephone, there is no one on the line. When he calls back to ask why the telephone rang, he is told we did not call you. All this is happening in my presence and within my hearing.
During 4 months of incarceration, Mr S has lost some 20 kg in weight and looks a shadow of himself. He is psychologically traumatised by the circumstances of his arrest on 15th September, 2005 when his front door was smashed…