Half of immigrants held in Britain's detention centers do not have legal representation due to cuts in legal aid, according to a report that criticized the U.K.'s treatment of asylum-seekers and refugees.
According to the Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) survey, the number of people waiting to be granted the right to remain in the U.K. has significantly increased as the reductions in legal aid for immigration detainees left them vulnerable.
The report suggests that one in five immigrants held at detention centers do not have any legal assistance.
"The situation described by detainees underlines the bleak situation that people being held in immigration detention face – made pointlessly and unjustly worse by the government's ill-conceived cuts on legal aid," BID's Policy & Research Manager John Hopgood said. "Around half of the 30,000 people who are detained every year are released without being deported. They face situations like being separated from their families and getting locked up, often without proper explanation, which can be a scary and frustrating experience," he said.
"That so many people are forced to go through this without access to the legal help they need, is unacceptable – and at odds with the British value of the rule of law. The only way to right this wrong is to ensure that legal aid is automatically available to the people who need it the most," Hopgood added.
Immigration was one of the main drivers of the U.K.'s vote on June 23 to leave the EU. According to reports, asylum requests in the U.K. rose by some 38 percent to reach 34,687 last year with 77,440 asylum cases reportedly in progress currently.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said she will invoke Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty that triggers the exit negotiations by the end of March 2017. The June 23 referendum which saw Britons vote to leave the European Union was characterized by a fierce anti-immigration campaign. Pro-Brexit supporters campaigned heavily on immigration, and the need to regain control over Britain's borders, in a referendum battle fought against the backdrop of Europe's worst migrant crisis since World War II.
The Council's European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) condemned the "considerable intolerant political discourse in the U.K., particularly focusing on immigration," in a report released on October. The watch-dog voiced concerns at the sharp rise in anti-Muslim violence in Britain over the recent years.