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.
For further information:
- The Guardian, MPs call for end to indefinite detention of migrants, 3 March 2015.
- The Independent, Immigration centres: Act now to overhaul Britain’s ‘shocking’ detention of migrants indefinitely and in appalling conditions, say MPs, 3 March 2015.
- The Huffington Post, Immigration Detention: A Disproportionate Deprivation of Liberty, by Maurice Wren, British Refugee Council, 3 March 2015
- Right to Remain, Cross-party parliamentary inquiry into detention: “we cannot go on as we are”, 3 March 2015
- Channel 4, Yarl’s Wood: undercover in the secretive immigration centre, 2 March 2015
- Comment is Free, The Guardian, Locking up immigrants diminishes us all, 3 March 2015.
- ECRE Weekly Bulletin, Survivors of sexual violence detained and vulnerable to further abuse in the UK, 23 January 2015.
- Detention Forum, Unlocking detention, A virtual tour of the UK’s immigration detention estate, 14 Sept to 20 Dec 2014.
- Asylum Information Database (AIDA), Detention of Asylum Seekers in the UK, January 2015
This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 6 March 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.