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Judicial Review into Home Secretary’s GPS Surveillance of Migrants as a Bail Condition Begins Today (5 December 2023)

Date: 05/12/2023
Duncan Lewis, Main Solicitors, Judicial Review into Home Secretary’s GPS Surveillance of Migrants as a Bail Condition Begins Today

Four claimants challenge the Secretary of State for the Home Department’s GPS surveillance of migrants as a condition of immigration bail in the High Court today (December 5).

The Duncan Lewis Solicitors clients received permission to apply for Judicial Review by an order of the Right Honourable Mr Justice Murray.
Since August 2021, the Home Office have been imposing electronic monitoring as a condition of immigration bail using its most invasive technology yet – where previously individuals were issued with Radio Frequency Monitors to measure their compliance with curfew conditions, now those on immigration bail are facing 24/7 monitoring via Global Positioning System tracking devices. This was once described by US Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor as follows:

“GPS monitoring generates a precise, comprehensive record of a person’s public movements that reflects a wealth of detail about her familial, political, professional, religious, and sexual associations. […] Disclosed in [GPS]data… will be trips the indisputably private nature of which takes little imagination to conjure: trips to the psychiatrist, the plastic surgeon, the abortion clinic, the AIDS treatment center, the strip club, the criminal defense attorney, the by-the-hour motel, the union meeting, the mosque, synagogue or church, the gay bar and on and on […] Awareness that the Government may be watching chills associational and expressive freedoms…] The net result is that GPS monitoring […] may ‘alter the relationship between citizen and government in a way that is inimical to democratic society’” (concurring opinion in United States v Jones 565 US 400 (2012)).

This surveillance has been undertaken through the imposition of a device which is fitted to the individual’s ankle, and requires charging for a minimum of 2 hours per day. The data derived from the use of these devices is comprised of ‘trail data’ in the form of GPS co-ordinates, which shows the individual’s location down to within 2 metres 24 hours a day.

Such intrusive measures directly engage Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to respect for private and family life. Any state incursions into this right must be in accordance with the law.

Four claimants from distinct background have sought to challenge these measures in a linked claim for judicial review in the Administrative Court. These clients include survivors of trafficking, modern slavery, domestic violence and FGM. One client was initially threatened with removal to Rwanda and has now been granted humanitarian protection, while another faced deportation proceedings but has since received settled status as an EEA national. Each client instructed that wearing the GPS tracking device caused severe detriment to their mental health. They have felt stigmatised, increasingly confined to their homes, and felt as if their lives are controlled by the Home Office at all times. These pernicious facets of GPS surveillance have been supported by reports into the nature of the technology from Privacy International, the detriment to the claimants by The Helen Bamber Foundation, and the realities of immigration bail from Bail for Immigration Detainees.

The Claimants are arguing that their tracking by the Secretary of State for the Hone Department was not in accordance with the law in England and Wales due to the failure of the decision maker to give reasons and conduct the quarterly reviews of these conditions as required by the common law and the Secretary of State’s own policies respectively. The claimants also maintain that it was disproportionate to impose GPS surveillance given their individual circumstances, and that it is unlawful to retain the data derived from the wearing of theses tracking devices for any reason whatsoever.

The matter is to be heard over the course of 3 days where the claimants will seek declaratory relief and directions for determining whether damages are payable to give them just satisfaction for the breach of their rights under Article 8 ECHR. The Claimants are represented by Ahmed Aydeed, Lily Parrott, Conor Lamb, and Natalie Hawes. The counsel team instructed on the matter are Chris Buttler KC, Aidan Wills, and Rosalind Comyn of Matrix Chambers, as well as Karen Staunton of 4 King’s Bench Walk.

Ahmed Aydeed, Public Law Director at Duncan Lewis Solicitors, possesses extensive expertise in advising individuals on various public law issues, particularly in asylum, international protection, EU law, nationality law, administrative detention, discrimination & equality, and family and child care proceedings. Recognised as a Recommended Individual in The Legal 500 for immigration work, Aydeed has represented individuals in Judicial Review proceedings against several governmental bodies, showcasing a steadfast commitment to addressing unlawful detention and protecting the rights of vulnerable groups.

Aydeed has been at the forefront of battling the unlawful detention of migrants in the UK, challenging the flawed processing of asylum claims through the Detained Fast Track system, and advocating against the criminalisation and detention of trafficking victims, torture victims, and unaccompanied minor refugees.

Duncan Lewis Solicitors' award-winning public law team maintains top rankings in both Chambers and the Legal 500 directories. The team consistently takes on complex, high-profile challenges and holds the government accountable. Recent successes include landmark cases such as the Rwanda challenge, Manston House, and the Brook House detention centre inquiry.

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