captureDetention Action has published a report outlining opportunities for community-based alternatives to detention of migrants and asylum seekers in the UK. The report stresses that for alternatives to work, civil society, migrant communities and experts-by-experience need to be involved in developing and implementing them.

“There is abundant evidence that detention is not necessary for the Government’s immigration governance objectives,” stated Director of Detention Action Jerome Phelps. “With support and engagement, migrants can resolve their cases in the community, without detention. Civil society and communities have a crucial role to play in developing alternatives that can reduce government’s use of detention.”

Highlighting that the UK currently has one of the largest detention estates in Europe and is the only country to use detention without time limit, the report proposes alternatives to detention for people in returns procedures, in the asylum process and for ex-offenders with barriers to removal. Alternatives to detention should take into account the International Detention Coalition’s Community Assessment and Placement (CAP) model, the report suggests. The model is based on extensive good practice by countries around the world and not widely implemented in Europe. It involves a holistic approach, using screening and assessment, and outlines the key processes necessary for cost effective, reliable, and humane alternatives to detention.

“The first time I heard about alternatives was in a Freed Voices session after I’d been released. I was shocked. I could not believe it,” explains Kasonga, a member of the experts-by-experience group Freed Voices.

““You are telling me there is another way to control immigration that is cheaper, more humane, and more efficient for the government, and they aren’t using it?” I was very angry. And confused. Detention clearly doesn’t work and the way out is sitting in a drawer! Alternatives can be a win-win, for everybody – for the Government, for the taxpayer, for people whose lives are otherwise broken by detention.”

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 30 September 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.