Last week, the Border Criminologies blog ran two posts on the criminal convictions of asylum seekers and refugees. The first, by Yewa Holiday, explored the prosecution of refugees for passport offences while the second, by Carolyn Hoyle, set out the role of the Criminal Case Review Commission (CCRC) in referring such cases to the Court of Appeal.

Both posts signal a new and important area of research for criminologists and legal scholars.  Whereas US legal scholars have, for some years now, paid an increasing attention to the links between criminal and immigration law, outside the work of a few scholars in the UK, notably Ana Aliverti, who completed a DPhil in law and held the Howard League postdoctoral fellowship at the Centre for Criminology before taking up her current position as assistant professor in the law school at Warwick University, British legal scholars have not been as interested in this matter.  Rather, the effects of the ‘criminalisation of migration’ -- like irregular migration, detention, deportation, and homelessness -- have been considered within the fields of migration, refugee studies, geography and anthropology.

We have already seen in earlier accounts how the Border Criminologies group within the Centre for Criminology has challenged these disciplinary arrangements.  These two posts, however, reveal a different tack.  While, on the one hand, Yewa Holiday’s work brings a consideration of refugees more directly into mainstream legal literature, using familiar methodologies, Carolyn’s Hoyle’s study demonstrates the relevance of these matters for a much broader understanding of the British legal system. The wrongful conviction of asylum seekers is just one part of Carolyn’s research into the CCRC.  It sits alongside the treatment of other more familiar crimes, part of a disparate group of examples where state power seems to have been deployed without sufficient restraint.

In her study of the CCRC, Carolyn is interested in how CCRC staff go about determining which cases to investigate, a key element of which is based on their assessment of the likelihood of success.  As her work proceeds it will be interesting to see whether the same factors shape decisions about different crimes, or whether the criminal conviction of refugees unearth a particular set of elements.  In either case, it is already clear that there will be implications for the crown prosecution service and the training of criminal barristers and solicitors who, increasingly, come into contact with individuals charged with immigration act offences in the criminal courts.