SDV welcomes the report of the Inquiry into the Use of Immigration Detention in the United Kingdom
Last week was a remarkable week for anyone interested in immigration detention. On Tuesday 3 March, to unprecedented media interest in the topic, the much-anticipated report of the first ever Parliamentary Inquiry into detention was published. It’s a really strong statement against the UK’s system of detention. In her foreword, Inquiry Chair Sarah Teather MP wrote:
“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.”
SDV knows this to be true more than most. We visit people in Dungavel. They tell us it is better than other detention centres, and that the staff are generally caring and respectful. Dungavel also receives very positive inspection reports. It’s the best detention can be. But still it destroys lives. Here’s what one of our visitors posted recently on her Facebook page to encourage her friends to support the #Time4aTimeLimit campaign:
“'I think they keep me here until I kill myself... maybe I will'. This, said to me by someone in Dungavel, isn't said to shock me. It's simply a fact. He can't return to his home country and after years in detention, his physical and mental health is so poor that sometimes suicide seems attractive. At least it would be a release from the awful situation of having committed no crime, but being held indefinitely with no end date in sight.”
This is the reality of immigration detention in the UK. That’s why the Inquiry report is so welcome. Its main recommendations are:
- 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.
Implementation of the Inquiry’s recommendations would not end immigration detention, which is what SDV ultimately wishes to see. But it would end the cruellest aspect of this cruel system: indefinite detention.
Write to your MP and parliamentary candidates asking them their position on the Inquiry report. You’ll find a sample letter here. Also, see our previous blog for other ways to support the #Time4aTimeLimit campaign.