We learned on Friday 3 February that the Home Office would not be appealing Renfrewshire Council’s refusal of planning permission for its proposed Short Term Holding Facility at Glasgow airport.
This is good news. But the bad news is that Dungavel remains open and people living in our communities remain at risk of detention.
We know it doesn’t have to be like this. There are alternatives to detention and two days before we learned that Dungavel would stay open, SDV, UNHCR and Detention Action took part in a meeting at the Scottish Parliament to discuss them. Hosted by Linda Fabiani MSP, the meeting discussed the range of community-based alternatives that operate both at home and abroad and considered the implications for Scotland.
Our Life After Detention group opened the meeting by sharing with MSPs and other participants some of their experiences of detention. Here is what they said:
Quincy: Because of detention, I have lost my way forever
Aliya: Because of detention I experienced fear, disrespect, feeling absolutely hopeless, pressure, sadness, sickness and some kind of disability that I never had in my life
Suliman: Because of detention I was always waiting, waiting, waiting
Astride: Because of detention male officers came and looked at us at night. I can’t sleep. I’m scared.
Lea: Because of detention my future is broken.
Pablo: Because of detention my family is broken. My relationship didn’t survive and now I only see my son twice a month
Ali: Because of detention I am a nervous wreck, terrified of the authorities.
Mohamad: Because of detention my life changed. Not knowing when I would get out took away my mental health, my confidence, my hope
Yaser: Because of detention I lost all my belongings, including the only photos I had of my late father
Ramesh: Because of detention I am sick, really really sick. I am not who I was three years ago
John: Because of detention I was constantly reminded of the torture in prison in my own country
Miriam: Because of detention I can’t sleep for a week before signing at the Home Office in Glasgow
Everyone: Because of detention we are always terrified of being detained again
I am Aliya, and I was detained for 24 hours
I am Pablo and I was detained for three years
I am Quincy and I was detained for five months
I am Miriam and I was detained for 72 days
The people in our group were detained for a total of 1,709 days. That’s 1,709 days none of us can get back again. 1,709 days of life, simply, lost.
The contribution of the Life After Detention group to the meeting was a stark reminder of the harm detention causes and why it must end. It’s why we will continue to work towards a different approach, working with people in the community, based on dignity, fairness and most of all, freedom.
Read our briefing Beyond detention in Scotland.