Indefinite immigration detention costs money, time and lives

Analysis and Conclusions

The Detained Lives research demonstrates the failure of the UK’s blind reliance on immigration detention as a panacea to the challenges of immigration control. Asylum seekers and foreign ex-offenders are seen as a problem that can be resolved with sufficient toughness. Indefinite detention is the logical culmination of years of increasingly repressive immigration policies: yet it does not work. LDSG’s evidence shows that indefinite detention is a largely ineffective means of deporting people. This exercise in futility has an enormous human cost to the lives of those on the receiving end.

The research makes clear that indefinite detention is a reality and may even have become routine, given that one small charity has worked with 188 indefinite detainees over an 20 month period. The importance of this in itself should not be understated: indefinite detention corresponding to no criminal sentence is an extreme measure. In no other corner of society does anything comparable take place: the criminal justice and mental health systems only hold people indefinitely in rare and extreme cases. The reluctance of society to tolerate 42 days detention without trial of terrorist suspects stands in stark contrast to an immigration system that gives little respect to the civil liberties of foreign ex-offenders. Continue reading “Indefinite immigration detention costs money, time and lives”

General Election 2010: background information and suggestions for action for Local Meetings

Detention of children

Every year 1000 children are locked up in the UK because their parents’ asylum cases have been rejected and they are scheduled for deportation. The children (and their parents) have committed no crime and have often fled from countries where they experienced violence, war and discrimination.  They are the only children in this country who can be locked up indefinitely without any involvement of the courts. The effects on the children of being locked up include depression, weight-loss, bed-wetting and even self-harm. The government believes that families run away from the authorities if they are not detained, but there is no evidence of this – in fact the evidence from countries which do not detail families and children indicates the opposite. The education and health needs of the children and the desire for friendship and stability prevent families from disappearing.

For information about the Outcry campaign go to

For information about alternatives as practised in other countries go to

Look at the Children’s Society’s campaign OutCry and write to your prospective Parliamentary candidates to demand an end to this practice.


Many asylum-seekers are left destitute and without status at the end of their process; without permission to work, without access to benefits. Although their asylum cases may have “failed”, they are forced to stay in the UK either because it is unsafe for them to return to their country of origin, or because their governments will not provide them with new travel documents. Many are left in limbo, waiting for years in this situation and dependent on charity or kindness of friends, or running the risk of being exploited in illegal employment.

Write to your prospective Parliamentary candidates asking that all asylum-seekers be given the right to work legally.


Many asylum-seekers are given what is called “Section 4 support” which consists of accommodation and vouchers for named supermarkets, worth only £35 a week. Sometimes this situation lasts for years. Many projects exchange these vouchers for cash, but this is likely to be impossible in the future with the new “Azure card” which is topped up weekly but cannot be used to obtain cash at ATMs. This will make it impossible for asylum-seekers to have any cash whatsoever.

Write to your prospective Parliamentary candidates demanding that asylum-seekers be incorporated into the state benefit system.

[from Central England Area Quaker Asylum Group]

Action you can take

As many of you will know a new report, reiterating the lasting damage caused by detention was released today by Dame Anne Owers

In the run up to the election it is important that those who oppose detention make sure there message is heard. We are asking people to:

1 – Check your name is on the petition and get ONE OTHER PERSON to sign (this would boost our numbers by nearly 1000).
You could also invite them to join this group.

2 – To challenge misconceptions and lies about child immigration detention in the media- such as the idea that taking children into care is the only alternative to detention or that the end of child detention would increase child trafficking. Lots of information is available here –

Thank you for all your support,
ECDN Co-ordinator

Child asylum-seekers ‘split from their families by force’


Report on immigration centre reveals heavy-handed treatment of young detainees

The use of force against child asylum seekers by private security guards has been condemned in a report raising concerns about the detention and treatment of refugee families.

Inspectors who visited Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre in Bedford said they found “concerning incidents” of force being used to split or keep families apart before deportation. There were also instances of force being used on pregnant women and individual children.


Read more here: By Robert Verkaik, Home Affairs EditorWednesday, 24 March 2010

Yarl’s Wood detained baby for 100 days says new report

Yarl’s Wood detained baby for 100 days according to a report due to a report published tomorrow and quoted in “The Guardian” newspaper today.

Chief Inspector of Prisons Anne Owers said:

“”What was particularly troubling was that decisions to detain, and to maintain detention of, children and families did not appear to be fully informed by considerations of the welfare of children, nor could their detention be said to be either exceptional or necessary,” she says.

See this link for more: Yarl’s Wood detained baby for 100 days

and this BBC report

Frances Laing

March 24, 2010

Suggested letter to prospective Parliamentary candidates

You may like to copy and personalise the letter below for your prospective Parliamentary candidates, to ensure that the issues we are passionate about are sensitively raised:

Reply to:


Policy towards asylum seekers

I write to you in your capacity as prospective parliamentary candidate at the forthcoming general election in order to find out your personal views and those of your party on issues affecting asylum seekers.

As I expect you are aware, the asylum system as run by the present Government has been criticized trenchantly both by national and international bodies on many occasions in recent years. For instance, the Independent Asylum Commission in 2008 said the treatment of some asylum seekers was a shameful blemish on the UK’s international reputation. I follow the subject closely and unfortunately am sure that that opinion is justified. My vote in the coming election will be strongly influenced by the intentions of each candidate and his/her party on the issue generally and in particular on the following subjects.

  1. a) Do you oppose (i) the detention of children and (ii) the separation of parents from their children for the purpose of detaining the parents?

b) What is your party’s policy on this issue?

  1. a) Do you oppose the destitution policy practised by the present Government towards those whose asylum claims have been refused? If so, please explain what policy you think should be adopted, whether people in that position should be allowed to work or whether they should receive benefits until such time as they leave the country.

b) What is your party’s policy on this issue?

Finally I hope you will sign the election pledge produced by Liberty at

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely


I am writing to make you aware that on the 26 February 2010 the Department of Health launched a consultation exercise on a review of access to the NHS by foreign nationals.  Details of the consultation are available at:

The deadline for the Department of Health consultation is 30 June 2010.  This extended deadline takes account of the fact that a general election must be held by 3 June and that active engagement in consultations should not take place during a campaign period.

We are keen to obtain the views of all parties with an interest in access to the NHS by foreign nationals, and also access by UK nationals who spend time outside the UK, and believe your organisation would be able to contribute to the consultation. Continue reading “DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND UK BORDER AGENCY PUBLIC CONSULTATIONS: ACCESS TO THE NHS BY FOREIGN NATIONALS”

Yarl’s Wood: Response from Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards re: Meg Hillier

Report from Frances Laing  – March 23, 2010

Response from Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. 19th. March, 2009

Received a response today from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. Joan Meredith and I made a joint citizen’s complaint about the letter Meg Hillier wrote to all M.P’s. For the text  of the letter see this previous post: Continue reading “Yarl’s Wood: Response from Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards re: Meg Hillier”

Asylum is a human right

In this year’s General Election, we want candidates to remember the importance of providing safety to people fleeing war, torture and persecution in debates about asylum and immigration.

Please join the Refugee Council, Liberty and Scottish Refugee Council in asking candidates to sign our Asylum Election pledge. The pledge calls on candidates from all parties to ensure a fair and balanced debate on asylum and immigration, and avoid racism and xenophobia.

We’ve written to candidates to tell them about the pledge but pressure from voters is vital. Please make sure that your candidates know that local people reject xenophobia and racism, and believe that the right to seek asylum must be protected.

Act now: contact your candidates about the pledge

Remember to let us know how your MP or parliamentary candidate responds to your pledge request by emailing us at

Thank you for your support.

Refugee Council Campaigns Team