If you’ve been unlawfully detained and your human rights have been breached in an immigration removal or detention centre or a prison, we could help you claim compensation. If your loved one has died in an immigration removal or detention centre or prison, we can also help you get answers.

In the UK, detention centres can hold you in prison-like conditions for many reasons, with no time limit on how long you might be there. We know this is a very stressful experience to go through, especially when you believe you’re being held unlawfully.

Have You Been Unlawfully Detained?

There are strict laws about who the Home Office can detain and why. Despite this, the Home Office sometimes makes mistakes and acts unlawfully. These are some of the ways your detention may have been unlawful:

  • The Home Office made a mistake in your immigration case, and that mistake can be linked to the reasons why you were detained
  • Your detention wasn’t properly reviewed
  • You had a medical problem or disability which was made worse by detention
  • You were separated from your child
  • You were assessed as being an adult when you were a child
  • You were physically or mentally unfit to be detained
  • Your detainment caused you to develop a medical condition
  • Your removal from the UK wasn’t possible within a reasonable period. 

There are many other examples of cases where your detention could be unlawful, or there has been a breach of your human rights and we can advise you on these.

Our expert lawyers can get you the justice you deserve by holding the Home Office to account for its mistake. We’ll also help you claim compensation for what you’ve been through and the impact on your life.

We can help you make a claim even if only part of your detention was unlawful. Our solicitors can also help you make a claim on behalf of a loved one who sadly passed away while detained in a removal centre or prison.

How Do You Make A Compensation Claim?

The first thing to do is get in touch with our specialist solicitors so we can tell you whether you can make a compensation claim. It’s best to start a claim within one year of the beginning of your detention, as there are strict time limits. However, even if you or a loved one has been in detention for over a year, it’s still worth contacting us to see if you have a claim.

If you do have a claim, we’ll prepare a letter to the Home Office or security company, to try and get a compensation settlement without going to court. If the Home Office or security company won’t settle out of court, then we’ll fight your case in court to get you the compensation you deserve.

The claim process usually takes between six and 18 months, but this may be longer for more complex cases.

We offer legal aid funding if you’re financially eligible, and No Win No Fee agreements depending on the circumstances of your claim.

Why Choose Irwin Mitchell?

Our lawyers are passionate about achieving justice and we work with every client with sensitivity and respect. We always take the time to listen to you and your story, so that we can best tailor our advice to you.

We’re known for putting our clients at the heart of everything we do. We’ll make sure you understand the process and what to expect at each stage, and will keep you updated throughout.

No matter what language you speak, we can find you the right interpreter or lawyer who speaks your language. We also have a lot of experience working with clients with disabilities and we have extra measures in place to help you.

Our firm is featured in the Legal 500 legal directory for handling “a range of human rights matters with an emphasis on claims against the police, prison law, and immigration mandates.” Because we’re experts on how the system works, we know how to get you the best outcome possible for your case.

We have offices up and down the UK. Wherever your immigration detention centre is, we’re on hand to help.

Contact Us

Call us on 0800 028 1943 to talk with our lawyers and find out if you could claim compensation for your unlawful detention or breach of your human rights.

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Immigration Detention Claims - More Information

Client Quote

I feel like I've taken on the world and beaten it, not just for me but for everyone else."

Mrs R, Client

Inquest Into Death of Polish Man In Prison

“We know Michał would have found it difficult to access specialist legal advice to appeal against deportation, but with advice from an immigration lawyer he could have proved to the Home Office that he had been living and working in the UK for 12 years and that he should not be deported.” - Oliver Carter, Associate

“Nothing will bring back the light that our son brought into our lives. However we are hoping that the findings from the Inquest into his death will lead to conclusions that will, in the future, help to save the lives of others under similar circumstances as Michał.” - Michał's parents

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can You Be Detained For In An Immigration Removal Centre?

The most common reasons why people are detained are because the Home Office believes that:

  • You entered the UK unlawfully
  • Your claim to asylum was refused and you can no longer appeal
  • You’re in the UK without an immigration status or a pending application
  • Your asylum application was rejected because you’re already protected by another country
  • You missed your allocated Home Office signing event (required by the Home Office if your asylum application is still in progress).

You can be held in a detention centre for one or multiple reasons, with no time limit on how long your stay will be. However, according to the Home Office’s own policy, you shouldn’t be detained if you cannot be removed from the UK within a reasonable period. This might include where there were certain barriers to your removal. Special rules must be followed before the Home Office can detain you if you:

  • Suffer from a mental health condition or a learning difficulty
  • Are a survivor of torture
  • Are a survivor of sexual or gendered violence
  • Are a survivor of human trafficking or modern slavery
  • Suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Are pregnant
  • Suffer from a severe physical disability
  • Suffer from other serious physical health conditions or illnesses
  • Are aged 70 or over
  • Are a transsexual or intersex person.

What Are Your Rights As A Detainee?

Many detention facilities function like prisons, sometimes treating the people under their care like inmates. There are many examples of detention centres not respecting detainee rights. We feel it’s important for every person being held in detention centres to know their rights.

You have the right to:

  • Legal advice
  • Support to practice your religion
  • Take your medication
  • Medical care and the right to file a complaint if you feel your medical needs are being ignored or treated incorrectly
  • See your family and friends (this must be organised through the official channels).

The best way to exercise your rights is to speak to one of our lawyers as soon as you can. We can get to work right away on making sure you’re not being detained unlawfully and your rights are being respected.

We advise that you keep a physical copy of your lawyer’s details with you at all times. This means you can still contact us for legal help even if your mobile phone is taken away while in detention. It’s also a good idea to have a physical copy of your doctor’s contact number, and prescriptions for your medication.

If your rights have not been respected while you were detained, please contact us on 0800 028 1943.

Awards & Accreditations

We're always proud to be recognised for the work we do for our clients and have been named as a leading firm in the latest legal guides - which provide information and recommendations about lawyers and law firms in the UK.


Private Client Team of the Year - Legal Business Awards 2018
The Times Best Law Firms 2019
Chambers & Partners 2020 logo
Great technical knowledge
Great technical knowledge and the ability to progress claims efficiently."
Well-run and steady ship
A well-run and steady ship with a strong presence in the claimant market."

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