6 March 2015

An inquiry by an all-party parliamentary group into the use of immigration detention in the UK has found that the detention system is “expensive, ineffective and unjust”. The inquiry highlights that too many people are detained and for disproportionate lengths of time. The inquiry calls for a wholesale shift in approach which includes a 28 day time-limit for detention, the use of migration detention as an “absolute last resort”, a robust system to review the decision to detain early on, and the introduction of a much wider range of alternatives to detention.

The report raises serious concerns relating to the use of the Detained Fast Track System and underlines that detention of asylum seekers undermines high-quality decision making.

The report notes that between 2011 and 2014, the UK Government paid nearly £15 million (€20.7 million) in compensation following claims for unlawful detention. In addition, £164.4 million (€226.9 million) were spent in running immigration centres in the UK in 2013 and 2014.

The report pays specific attention to the frequency with which detention is applied to detainees with mental illnesses, victims of torture and trafficking and further highlights the disconcerting reports of sexual intimidation that women faced in detention centres by male guards as well as the bullying, harassment and abuse that LGBTI detainees are confronted with. The inquiry recommends that victims of trafficking, torture, as well as women who are victims of rape and sexual violence should never be detained and that individuals with a mental health condition should only be detained under very exceptional circumstances. Screening procedures must be improved to accommodate this recommendation.  

During 2014, 30,365 people entered migration detention in the UK.


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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 6 March 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.