Questions for MPs/Hustings – detention

Yarls-Wood-smThis is the first in a series of posts giving examples of questions that you may want to put to your MP, or at a Hustings. It will be updated as questions come in. The topic for this blog is detention:

People who have been detained for immigration purposes have no idea when they may be released, and some are detained for many months, and sometimes years.

  • Would you support a rule that there be a maximum detention time of 28 days for those detained in the immigration detention estate?

People detained in the immigration estate are able to apply for bail but they have to know about this, they have to know what the issues are and to manage the application themselves, and will often have to negotiate this in a system which is essentially organised in a foreign language and often by video link.

  • Would you support a rule that no-one will be detained in the immigration detention estate without being brought before a judicial authority for a face-to-face hearing within 72 hours?

Children are still detained in the immigration detention estate, and recent figures show that many are released back into the community having been subjected to an emotionally abusive and sometimes scarring experience. [ref: In the third quarter of 2014, 26 children entered detention, a small increase on the 19 recorded for each of the first and second quarters of 2014.] 

  • Will you support an enquiry specifically into the effects that such detention has on children, that will also to consider alternatives for children and their famiies?

Video link bail hearings: the process is both distressing and unfair for the detainee, and face to face hearings are preferable (see Bail Observation Report…/still-a…/). However, it has to be said that practice varies from one Immigration Removal Centre to another, so it is possible for example for someone in Campsfield to have a McKenzie friend in the video room with them. At the moment Serco refuses to allow McKenzie Friends in, on security grounds, because the camera room is in a part of the Removal Centre off-limits to visitors.

  • While immigration bail hearings continue to be  held by video-link (cheaper but not enabling for the person in detention),  will you support a change in the rules to allow the Bail Applicant to be given an absolute, statutory right to be accompanied in the camera-room by a solicitor,  or at the very least by a McKenzie Friend of Applicant’s choice?
We also suggest that you could raise issues about people being detained when they are vulnerable. Men coming into detention are often not getting the medical assessment that they should, and Rule 35 reports disappear into the system without outcome.  Rule 35 means people should not be locked up if they are for example victims of torture, or have mental health problems.  A question might be something along the lines of
  • How many Rule 35 reports have been made, and with what outcomes?
The medical staff have the right under the regulations to ‘escalate’ the report if they are not happy with the way it is treated by the HO caseworker. When people ask how many reports had been ‘escalated’ in that way they are told we must put in an Freedom of Information request. Some MPs are following this up and it would be good for others to follow up too.TheHome Office tends to suggest that the medics simply put what the detainee has told them about torture etc. ie they dismiss the medics. There’s probably a question in that too.
  • Have any of the Rule 35 reports been ‘escalated ‘?
People are often refused bail on the basis that the Home Office suggests that they may abscond, even where there is no suggestion that they have not complied with reporting etc. previously. Continuing indefinite detention is emotionally abusive and deprives these people of their liberty.
  • How many decisions to refuse bail mentioned the risk of absconding?
  • How many people who were released on bail from immigration detention centres actually absconded in the last two years?


See Detention Action: