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More than half of deportations from the UK are called off, The Independent can reveal – raising concerns that thousands of people are being unfairly targeted for forcible removal.

Figures obtained through freedom of information law show that of the 24,674 removal directions issued last year, 15,200 were cancelled. Of these, more than two-thirds were called off within a week of the scheduled removal and 45 per cent within just one day.

Lawyers and campaigners said the figures showed the impact of the Home Office’s “detain first, ask questions later” approach.

The most common reason for cancellation was because legal representations had been submitted (34 per cent), with other reasons given including ”administrative”, “disruptive behaviour” and “medical”.

It comes after the High Court ordered the Home Office to stop using a controversial “no warning” tactic, which means a person can be told that at any point during the subsequent three months they may be given between three and seven days’ notice that they will be removed.

The decision meant the Home Office had to immediately cancel 69 removals scheduled for the coming days. During the hearing, the court heard that hundreds, if not thousands, of people were probably subject to the policy in any one year.

Opelo Kgari, who has been issued removal directions twice but had them cancelled both times within hours of the flight time, said the experience was “traumatising” and that a large amount of resources were wasted in the process.

The 28-year-old, who came to the UK from Botswana when she was 13, told The Independent how she and her mother were chaperoned by a dozen officers in two separate vans to the airport last March before their removal was cancelled following intervention from their MP.

A month later they were again placed in removal vans and driven towards the airport, before intervention from their solicitor mean the process was again cancelled. They have since been granted leave to remain in the UK. Read more

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