Background: There is a widespread perception that destitution is increasing sharply in the UK. Media attention devoted to the prevalence of extreme hardship, and to the increased use of food banks in particular, is indicative of increasing public concern. Prominent public figures have made connections between destitution and government policies on immigration and asylum, welfare reform, homelessness, and exploitation and forced labour. Yet quantitative evidence on the causes, scale, trends and distribution of destitution in the UK is difficult to come by, as is data on the characteristics of those affected and the impact that this experience has on them. Read more
For centuries Britain has been outstanding in offering protection to people fleeing persecution. Many of them have done much to create this country’s reputation for fairness and justice and have contributed to the well-being of the nation. That reputation still draws to the United Kingdom people experiencing political and religious discrimination, torture, rape and other trauma in their countries of origin. Read more
‘We detain a lot of people, some for a very long time, all with huge uncertainty, and we have very limited processes for individuals to challenge that detention’.
‘Crucially, this panel believes that little will change by tinkering with the pastoral care or improving the facilities. We believe the problems that beset our immigration detention estate occur quite simply because we detain far too many people unnecessarily and for far too long. The current system is expensive, ineffective and unjust.’ Read more
On Monday night Channel 4 News broadcast shocking undercover footage of guards talking about the women in their care at Yarl’s Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire.
“Headbutt the bitch, I’d beat her up,” says one guard at the immigration prison, which is run for the Home Office by the private security company, Serco.
“Let them slash their wrists,” says another. Read more
A cross-party group of MPs and Peers has recommended that the next government should introduce a maximum time limit of 28 days on the length of time anyone can be detained in immigration detention. The call comes in a report published today following a joint inquiry into the use of immigration detention in the UK by the APPG on Refugees and the APPG on Migration. Read more
• There should be a time limit of 28 days on the length of time anyone can be held in immigration detention.
• Detention is currently used disproportionately frequently, resulting in too many instances of detention. The presumption in theory and practice should be in favour of community-based resolutions and against detention.
• Decisions to detain should be very rare and detention should be for the shortest possible time and only to effect removal.
• The Government should learn from international best practice and introduce a much wider range of alternatives to detention than are currently used in the UK. Read more
The UK is the only country in Europe without a time-limit on detention. Migrants can be imprisoned indefinitely, solely for bureaucratic convenience, often for many months and even many years.
Britain has a long tradition of legal protection for civil liberties. This tradition is undermined every day that migrants are detained without time limit. Many people experience long-term damage to their physical and mental health. Their families also experience the distress of separation. Detention without time limit damages the UK’s international reputation for defending human rights.
Souleymane, who has experienced the trauma of indefinite detention, has said that:
In prison, you count the days down [till your release]. In detention, you count the days up.
As Detention Action’s recent report on the State of Detention in the UK shows, the statistics on indefinite detention are disturbing and yet even they do not paint the full picture:
In 2013, 904 migrants left detention after spending more than six months locked up; 237 more were still in detention at the end of the year, suggesting that 1,141 people went past six months in detention during the year. However, these statistics are misleading, as they arbitrarily exclude migrants whom the Home Office chooses to detain in prison, although their legal status is no different. Read more
The current plans are to double the size of Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre – IRC. The Home Office and Ministry of Justice are pressing ahead before the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Immigration Detention has made its recommendations, and at a time when the Home Secretary is concerned about conditions in IRCS. There is unanimous opposition locally and across all parties.
Quakers in Oxford signed a joint letter with 20 other organisations expressing concern. Read more