Some good news, but so much more to be done Posted March 1, 2019 by admin

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In this blog, we take a look at the latest detention statistics, published by the Home Office on 28 February.

There is no doubt that the latest detention statistics from the Home Office, released yesterday contain some good news. They cover the whole of 2018, a year which saw a lot of activity around detention, not least the publication of the second Shaw Review and the closure of Campsfield House. So it’s great to see some positive points from the statistics.

  • At the end of 2018 there were 1,784 people in immigration detention across the UK. This is a fall of 30% compared with 2017, when 2,545 were in detention. The number of people detained was the lowest since 2009, when comparable records began.
  • The number of people detained in Dungavel also fell. At the end of 2018, 61 people were detained there, compared to 128 at the end of 2017 – a fall of 52%. This is also the lowest number detained in Dungavel since 2009.
  • In 2018, 24,748 entered detention. This is a fall of 10% compared to 2017, and is good news. However that still means more than the population of St Andrews was detained last year. Imagine emptying a town and locking up all its inhabitants indefinitely.

So there's the good news.

However, a closer look at the figures reveals there is much more that could be done. In 2018, just 44% of people leaving detention were removed from the UK. That means that 56% were released back into the community. This compares to 53% in 2017. So the figures show that detention has actually become less effective in achieving its stated purpose of removing people from the country. They also, once again, raise serious questions about Home Office decisions to detain and maintain detention.

These concerns become more serious when we look at the length of time people are detained:

  • Of the 25,487 people who left detention in 2018, 31% had been detained for more than 28 days. That’s 7,832 people. 4% (1,048 people) had been detained for over 6 months, and 200 people had been detained for over a year.
  • Of the 1,784 people detained on 31 December 2018, 58% (1,030 people) had been detained for more than 28 days, 12% (208 people) had been detained for 6 months or more, and 3% (54 people) had been detained for more than a year.

It’s clear from these figures that introducing a 28 day time limit on detention would be an extremely effective way of reducing the use of detention, as the UK Government has committed to do. At a stroke, a 28 day time limit would more than half the number of people detained. And more importantly, it would end one of the most stressful and cruel aspects of detention: the fact that people experiencing it have no idea when it will end.

The Immigration Bill currently making its way through Parliament is an opportunity to make that happen. And there’s something you can do to help. Join in this social media action by tweeting a photo to your MP and Sajid Javid, making clear that you think it’s #Time4aTimeLimit to end #EndIndefiniteDetention.

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