Template letter for MPs on 28 day rule

IMG_6701http://www.qarn.org.uk/homepage/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/IMG_67011.pngLetter on detention for MPs

House of Commons

London
SW1A 0AA

Dear

Re: Call for a time limit on detention

As a Quaker and as one of your constituents, I wish to express my grave concern about the use of detention for immigration purposes.  The decision to detain is not ordered by a judge and is not part of a criminal sentence.   It is arbitrary, and the length of detention is indefinite.  Britain has a long tradition of legal protection for civil liberties. This tradition is undermined every day that migrants are detained without time limit.

Over the last twenty years, increasing numbers of people have been locked up for immigration purposes, without charge and without time limit.  At the end of 2013, the number of detained migrants reached 4,000 for the first time.  While British law lays down that no one may be held in prison without charge for longer than 28 days , there is no limit to the length of time for which people can be held under the 1971 Immigration Act. (see recent statistics overleaf)

The human cost of indefinite detention is immeasurable. Many people suffer long-term damage to their physical and mental health, whilst families are forced to experience the distress of separation. Indefinite detention is robbing people of their lives and taxpayers of their money. We need to work toward alternatives to detention which allow people to contribute to society.

There is a high financial cost.  It costs taxpayers £47,000 to hold one person for a year. Long-term detention is inefficient, as the longer a person is detained, the less likely is their deportation.  Of those who left detention in 2013 after being held for more than a year almost two-thirds were released back into the UK.  Their protracted detention had served no purpose.   People have been detained unlawfully – substantial sums have been paid out in compensation (£12 million in 2010).

The UK is the only country in Europe that routinely detains people for years. The UK has opted out of the EU Returns Directive, which sets a maximum time limit of 18 months. In fact, most EU countries have time limits much shorter than this: France, for example, has a limit of 45 days. Detention must always be a last resort and for the shortest time, in practice as well as in theory.  I believe that the UK should implement a time limit of 28 days.

I urge you to feed back to the current debate on the Immigration Bill, and to call on the Minister for Immigration to introduce a time limit as a matter of urgency.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

 

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