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Institutional accommodation and the provision of remote legal advice

Kamena Dorling

In the Spring of 2022, a ‘working group’ including representative from the Home Office, Asylum Aid, Helen Bamber Foundation, Jesuit Refugee Service, Humans for Rights Network and the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association began to meet regularly to discuss how to ensure residents of Napier barracks had access to expert legal advice, and to apply any learning from the situation in Napier to the proposed development of large-scale institutional accommodation in other parts of the country. A key issue for both accommodation centres is the availability of quality legal advice funded by legal aid for people’s asylum claims and the Home Office has been in discussion with the Legal Aid Agency about how this might be ensured in light of the remote location of Napier and the likely remote locations of other accommodation centres (such as the one previously proposed for Linton-on-Ouse). One option is to use legal providers from across the UK but this relies on advice being provided remotely and raises important questions about the need for face to face advice. This briefing provides a short overview of existing research on the challenges and the experience of legal aid providers in providing remote advice.