The UK detained and deported hundreds of homeless European Union citizens, mainly Lithuanians and Romanians, in the year to May 2017, according to a BBC report.  They were targeted under a now abandoned Home Office policy.

Today, as reported by the BBC, the detained and deported EU nationals – including those who were employed or had permanent resident status in the UK – are winning claims against the UK government amounting to hundreds of thousands of euros. The broadcaster reported on May 13 that at least 45 have made claims for damages.

As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, the UK’s Home Office has dropped its policy targeting European rough sleepers since a high court ruling in December 2017 found it to be unlawful.

A Home Office spokesperson told the BBC that the compensation claims would be considered on a “case-by-case basis”.

Speaking to DW, Leonie Hirst, a UK lawyer specialising in unlawful detention cases, said the detentions and deportations had occurred under Theresa May‘s policy of creating a “hostile environment” for immigrants living illegally in the United Kingdom.

But she said that policy had backfired in this case, with the Home Office now forced to pay out large amounts in damages to those who had been unfairly kept in custody or removed from the country. The claims included not only damages, but also compensation for loss of work while people were in custody or banned from employment during legal proceedings, she said.