• Journey to reporting centre: 9 miles
  • Average journey time: 1 hr 45 minutes
  • Cost: £7.20 return

Mohammed is an asylum-seeker from a country in east Africa, and has lived in the UK for over 12 years. He has been detained on several occasions including a failed deportation attempt, and has also experienced bouts of homelessness. Being ineligible for asylum support, he relies on a local charity for basic survival.

When you’re signing you don’t sleep. Horrible, horrific. You never know when you’re coming back or not. This morning you leave your house, you don’t know if you come back. That’s why I take a bag with me, every time, I have my essential things, you know? In case I don’t come back to my house.

I’m 57 years old, I sign every two weeks. And it’s very far, you don’t have transport, you don’t get bus fare, you don’t get nothing. It’s very, very difficult.

Last month, a man in front of me in the queue, he just fainted, in front of me… They said he had a heart attack. People are scared. Every time they come they are full of worry.

I’m tired of waiting, you can’t have a life here, I can’t have a wife or a girlfriend cos I can’t get a job, I am poor. No one wants to be with someone like that.

I say to the Home Office, I’m signing almost four years every two weeks, please can you postpone make it one month or making it every six months, or every three months… Some people signing every three months. They say “NO! what’s the reason, are you sick? I say no but some people sign monthly or three months. I say “no”, but I come every two weeks, you don’t pay me for the bus or nothing.

People are scared. Every time they come they are full of worry.

While reporting is framed by the Home Office as a temporary measure, this is very rarely experienced as such. Many have to report for several years, some for as long as six, seven or even up to 12 years. This is due to the fact that individuals must report to the Home Office until they receive an outcome on their immigration status.

Seeking to reduce the frequency of one’s reporting requirements is one way for making the ordeal more bearable, which in Mohammed’s case was denied. Regular reporting enforces people to live incredibly restricted lives, where they must repeatedly make often long and arduous journeys to difficult-to-access sites, simply so they can be located for several minutes on one particular day of the week or month.

As well, aside from the difficulty posed by the financial cost and the awkwardness of the location for people reporting, the fact that the centre is physically relatively remote further heightens their vulnerability to detainment, due to the unreachability of friends, family or legal professionals who may be able to advocate on their behalf.

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