Public Interest Law Centre, Migrants’ Rights Network, Liberty and twelve other organisations have today written a joint letter to London local authorities about the Home Office’s Rough Sleeping Support Service.
The letter, which can be read online here, calls on local councils not to participate in the Rough Sleeping Support Service until serious concerns about how the scheme operates have been addressed. The signatories are asking councils not to participate in any scheme that involves council employees or commissioned services (including charity workers) passing on personal information about rough sleepers to the Home Office without their fully informed consent at every stage.
The letter also calls on local authorities to cancel service-provision contracts with voluntary-sector organisations that have a track record of passing on personal information about rough sleepers to the Home Office without their fully informed consent. Finally, the signatories ask local councils to make a detailed commitment to funding independent, specialized accommodation, advice and support services for migrant and refugee rough sleepers in their area.
For reference, the letter from the GLA referred to in our open letter can be found here.
On October 22nd there will be a solidarity demo outside the High Court to coincide with the start of the two-day hearing of Public Interest Law Centre’s judicial review of the proposed development of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre.
For more – check out the inaugural PILC blog!
Earlier this month PILC and Migrants Rights Network held a roundtable meeting on migrant rough sleeper rights. Attendees includes Streets Kitchen, Liberty, Lesbians & Gays Support the Migrants, Project 17, Refugee Council and Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth.
The aim of the meeting was to develop ways of working together to uphold the rights of migrant rough sleepers, especially around data sharing and the role of local authorities & the voluntary sector in immigration enforcement.
PILC & MRN are particularly interested in monitoring the Home Office’s Rough Sleeping Support Service, which the Home Office claims has been introduced ‘to help non-UK nationals sleeping rough resolve their immigration cases and access the support that they need.’
However emails between the Home Office and the GLA, obtained through FOI requests made by Liberty, suggest that the RSSS represents a new effort to co-opt local councils and charities into the ‘delivery of immigration control’ and an attempt to circumvent consent-based information sharing.
The Home Office and some local authorities and homelessness charities have a history of unethical and unlawful practice when it comes to migrant rough sleepers. In December 2017 a Home Office policy allowing EEA-national rough sleepers to be detained and ‘administratively removed’ on the basis that rough sleeping was an ‘abuse’ or ‘misuse’ of EU treaty rights was ruled unlawful in the High Court as a result of a judicial review brought by PILC and North East London Migrant Action (NELMA).
NGOs, lawyers and activists who care about upholding the rights of homeless people in the ‘hostile environment’ need to work together to keep the Home Office and its allies honest on migrant rough sleeper rights.
PILC has produced a briefing on the RSSS.
If you would like more information, or have information to share, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re pleased to announce that the Public Interest Law Centre has moved to a new host organisation following the closure of Lambeth Law Centre.
Our new base at Camden Community Law Centre (CCLC) will allow us to continue our work developing strategic litigation against austerity and the hostile environment whilst also supporting campaigners & communities to challenge unlawful policies and practices on the part of national and local public authorities.
We’d like to thank CCLC and Law Centres Network for helping us achieve such a smooth transition. Huge thanks also to TV Edwards Solicitors and Project 17 for providing temporary office space for PILC staff during our move. A shout out to all of those who contacted us expressing solidarity – it made us all the more determined to ensure we are re-established.
PILC is very much ‘open for business’ and we look forward to working with clients and partners old and new. Please note that we are operationally independent from CCLC — referrals and enquiries should be directed to email@example.com
Residents of Brimstone House formed a powerful deputation to the Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz and the full Labour council meeting at Stratford Town Hall on Monday 15 July 2019.a
The deputation to a submission of a legal complaint, compiled with the Public Interest Law Centre supported by Focus E15 campaign, regarding the appalling conditions of the temporary and emergency accommodation in the Newham Council-owned building in Victoria Street, Brimstone House.
The compliant has been sent to every member of Newham Council and demands immediate action to remedy unsuitable housing conditions and to stop the length of time that people spend in temporary accommodation in many with young children. The accommodation is not overcrowded, but is in disrepair and the atmosphere many residents say is like a jail. Residents of Brimstone House are often told they will stay for 3-6 months, however the average length of stay is 1.5 years.
The legal complaint compiled by PILC, with the active assistance of Focus E15 campaigners and volunteers from the UCL Legal Advice Clinic is comprised of in-depth witness statements from 19 residents, an architectural report on the suitability of the building, recommendations from residents and Focus E15 Housing Campaign on what needs to be done in the short term, but also long term strategic policies and campaigns.
More information about the deputation and the ongoing campaign can be found here
The residents and campaigners are due to meet with the Mayor of Newham on Tuesday 6th August 2019 to further press their demands.
We’re sad to announce that Lambeth Law Centre (LLC), which has hosted the Public Interest Law Centre (PILC) since its inception as a law unit in September 2016, is closing due to insolvency.
PILC is currently taking steps to protect and continue the important work that we do. We are in the process of finalising a move to a new host organisation. We anticipate that PILC will be able to carry on working with minimal disruption to our clients and partners.
PILC was originally established to develop strategic litigation. On behalf of clients and campaigners we scored some significant victories for campaign groups and working class communities in defending them against the hostile environment and austerity.
We take solace from the solid links we have built with campaign groups and other lawyers who see the value of our work.
We’re grateful for your continuing support and look forward to being able to provide further updates soon.