R (on the application of VC) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 273 (Admin)
A Nigerian national suffering from mental health problems was unlawfully detained by the Defendant Home Secretary during a period of unexplained delay while his condition was under review. Following that review, the Claimant was lawfully detained as it was reasonable for the Defendant not to release him ahead of compulsory sectioning.
16 February 2016
HHJ Seys Llewellyn QC
1. The Claimant Nigerian national applied for judicial review of his detention pending deportation by the Defendant, and also his treatment while in detention.
2. The Claimant entered the UK with his wife and daughter in 2004, and was granted residence in 2005 for a five-year period. This was granted due to his being a dependent of a wife entitled to EEA residence.
3. The Claimant’s wife then left him. Between 2007 and 2014, the Claimant racked up 16 convictions for 27 criminal offences, the vast majority of which were related to possession and supply of drugs and property offences.
4. In 2008, the Claimant was sectioned under the Mental Health Act 1983. He was admitted to hospital on about 10 occasions for treatment under the 1983 Act.
5. The Claimant claimed that, at the time of his detention in June 2014, the Defendant had knowledge of his mental illness. The Claimant further claimed that 19 days into his detention, a Rule 35 report had been prepared, which stated that he had been diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder with psychotic features. The report also outlined how he had multiple admissions to hospital under 1983 Act and a compulsory treatment order in the community.
6. A further Rule 35 report was produced in March 2015. That report highlighted a gradual worsening of the Claimant's mental state. He was attended to by a psychiatrist and taken to a hospital.
7. The Defendant subsequently ceased stopped detaining the Claimant, though he remained in hospital under 1983 Act.
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8. It was argued by the Claimant that his detention was in breach of the Home Secretary’s policy on detaining the mentally ill and thus unlawful.
9. It was also argued that the detention put the Defendant Home Secretary in breach of the second and third Hardial Singh principles as, from October 2014, there had been no reasonable prospect of removing him within a reasonable length of time and he was detained for an unreasonable amount of time, therefore making his treatment a breach of Article 3 ECHR.
10. The application was granted in part.
11. From 8 July 2014, the Defendant had misinterpreted her policy but further or alternatively had considered detention justified because the Claimant's condition could be satisfactorily managed.
12. That view was one the Defendant could validly hold until the Report of March. At that point, transfer to hospital facilities was then required urgently. The Claimant succeeded in relation to the period of unexplained delay from 3 April but only until 27 April 2015. During the period from 27 April to 5 May 2015, when the Claimant was transferred, the Defendant could validly decide not to release the Claimant pending compulsory sectioning for hospital detention and in the light of risk of absconding and re-offending if released. The total period of detention was not so long as to give the court cause to intervene. It follows that the Claimant failed to establish a breach of the second Hardial Singh principle, or given the length of detention overall, breach of the third Hardial Singh principle.
13. There was no broad obligation to release a detainee on health grounds or to enable him or her to obtain medical treatment. Instead, Article 3 necessitated that the State secures the well being of prisoners and provided medical assistance (R. (on the application of Muaza) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1561,  1 W.L.R. 1870 and Kudla v Poland  35 EHRR 198 applied). Despite the Claimant's symptoms being concerning, for Article 3 to be engaged it had to be shown that the treatment by the Defendant caused the worsening of the condition. The Claimant did not demonstrate that in relation to his detention before March 2015 and up to 5 May 2015.
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