Uncle, 59, from the Gambia living in the UK

“Brothers, nephews, nieces, all British.”

Uncle turns 60 this year.  He has lived in Britain since 1993, never returning to his country of origin.  He has been refused travel documents, yet has spent around two years in detention, despite having only a single criminal conviction for sleeping rough.

Two decades of limbo
In twenty years, I never go back to my country.  I never go nowhere, I’m still here.  They just gave me six month visa.  I went to Denmark and came back, they gave me another six months visa.  I applied for leave to work, they gave me it.  I didn’t realize the paper they gave me to work was finished, I was still working and paying tax. I applied for asylum 1996, they messing about with me still.

I was working in security, I normally sit on the banks, when you come with your car I’m seeing you on the screen.  I say “Hello can I help you.” I just press, I give you a parking place.

The crime I just commit is breach of ASBO[1] only.  It was 2004, they said sleeping rough, I was homeless for a little time.  They calling police, I not go back there.  I keep on going, they ban me not to go back to area, but I’m living in the area.  I never go to court, I forgot the date, I was drinking too much as well.

Repeated detention
They keep on detaining me, when they gonna leave me alone?  Maybe about six times or so.  Last year they come to my house, my caseworker said I should come back to detention for interview, I came back to detention and did interview to give me travel documents.  Just telephone interview.  But I stayed in detention for two months.

I put bail application and the immigration judge said if they cannot send me back why they detaining me, I have to be outside.  I said thank you very much, it’s a good idea.  Why they detaining me when they can’t send me back, it’s a stupid idea.

With my embassy, it’s difficult to give travel documents.  They took me to the embassy this last time I been detained, I said since I entered this country I haven’t gone to the Gambia.   The embassy said “This man lived here long time, he deserves to have British passport.”

No papers, no freedom
All my family lives here, I don’t have no one in my country.  Brothers, nephews, nieces, all British.

They don’t want to give me my papers, they don’t want to leave me alone, they don’t want to give me freedom.

My life is shit here.  They don’t want to give me papers to work, and I’m getting too old.

[1] A anti-social behaviour order is a civil penalty imposed on someone found to have engaged in antisocial behaviour that would not normally warrant criminal prosecution.