Immigration detention in the UK: ‘Expensive, ineffective and unjust.’

| March 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

campsfieldA “landmark” report by a British cross-party parliamentary group concludes that immigration detention in the UK is ‘expensive, ineffective and unjust.’

 It has recommended that the next UK government should introduce a maximum time limit of 28 days on the length of time anyone can be detained in immigration detention.

The call follows a joint inquiry into the use of immigration detention in the UK by the APPG on Refugees and the APPG on Migration.

The panel, which included a former Cabinet Minister, a former Chief Inspector of Prisons, and a former law lord, considered evidence over eight months.

 Three panel members visited the Swedish Migration Board to discuss with officials and parliamentarians the role detention plays in the Swedish immigration system.

The inquiry panel conclude that the enforcement-focused culture of the Home Office means that official guidance, which states that detention should be used sparingly and for the shortest possible time, is not being followed, resulting in too many instances of unnecessary detention.

The panel recommend that the UK government should learn from best practice abroad where alternatives to detention are used, “which not only allow individuals to live in the community, but which also allow the government to maintain immigration control at a much lower cost to the state.”

The panel argues that depriving an individual of their liberty for the purposes of immigration detention should be an absolute last resort and only used to effect removal.

The Brussels based Jesuit Refugee Service in Europe said it supports the findings of the report and calls for its key recommendations to be followed.

Alternatives to detention, it says, must be used whilst a maximum time limit on detention of 28-days would greatly reduce human suffering.

 “We very much welcome this report,” says JRS Europe directorJean-Marie Carrière.

“We try to help vulnerable forced migrants held in prison-like conditions in many European countries and it is very encouraging to read such a high-level report that recommends alternatives to detention.”

 In most cases it is unnecessary, it asserts, to lock asylum seekers up at such great cost in both economic and human terms.

“Where detention is deemed necessary it is right that a time limit is put in place and 28 days would represent a huge improvement on the current situation of unlimited detention. The UK is the only country in the EU which detains people without limit – in some cases for several years.

 “JRS strongly urges the British government to implement the report’s recommendations as soon as possible, thereby giving asylum seekers more dignity and justice.”

 JRS UK director Louise Zanré says: “The report recognizes that there is a need to change the underlying culture behind the use of detention in the UK. The recommendations around time limit and review will redress the injustice of the current system’s horrific effects on a detained person’s life and well-being.”
The cross-party group examined 182 written evidence submissions from civil society
including one from JRS UK.
This submission highlighted indefinite nature of detention in the UK as one of its worst aspects.
“The anxiety this causes is acute, particularly as detainees do not know if they will eventually be released into the UK or deported,” says JRS.
The submission cited JRS research across 23 European countries which found that detention deteriorates the physical and mental health of nearly everyone who experiences it.

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Category: A Frontpage, Conflicts, Economy, EU, European Commission, European Parliament, Immigration, World

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