The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) was brought into English law by the Human Rights Act (HRA) 1998. The HRA guarantees your civil and political human rights, and this includes a freedom from unlawful detention – this is codified as Article 5 in the ECHR as the right to liberty and security. No-one shall be deprived of their liberty, except in certain limited circumstances – such as when lawfully convicted by a court.

If you are detained unlawfully, you can bring a claim against the police, immigration officials or other state bodies responsible for detaining you.

Unlawful detention refers to detention that occurs outside what the law allows. You can file a claim in the court if you are unlawfully detained, or have been the victim of it and are now released. A civil claim for unlawful detention can be made against state authorities such as the Police, Home Office or other types of law enforcement bodies.

A civil claim can seek monetary compensation for unlawful detention.

Examples of where you cannot be detained include:

  • you are an unaccompanied minor
  • you are a person with severe disabilities
  • you are a woman who is 24+ weeks pregnant
  • you are a person in need of constant medical care
  • you are victim of trafficking

If you don’t want monetary compensation in return then on your behalf we can seek an apology and force a change of policy of that public body.

The Public Interest Law Centre secured significant damages for a number of EEA nationals who had been wrongfully detained because they were homeless.