Along with many people, our members were closely following the legal challenge mounted by Women for Refugee Women (WfRW) that women detained in the Hassockfield Detention Centre should be able to access legal advice in person.

Because of the location of the detention centre, also known as Derwentside, in the North East of England, it had proven to be impossible to secure access to legal advice in person.

WfRW were adamant that expecting women to disclose past traumatic experiences to an anonymous voice on the ‘phone or a stranger via video call, while experiencing poor reception and a lack of privacy in a hostile setting like detention is cruel.

So along with WfRW, we were very disappointed to learn today the judge did not support their position. The ruling stated that “the quality and convenience of modern video-conference facilities is very good, and comparable to an unperson meeting,” and that “the telephone is an adequate means of communication for most people.” Really? To have the kind of conversation and to reveal the kind of the information that would be expected of these women?

We agree with WfRW that an in-person connection with a solicitor is the best method of legal advice, so people can develop trust and rapport and feel safe enough to talk about their traumatic experience. Isn’t that what we would want if we were to be detained?

The campaign against Hassockfield continues!