Some reactions to the APP Inquiry into Immigration Detention

Time For a Time Limit – Parliamentarians call for a 28 day maximum time limit on immigration detention to be introduced

A cross-party group of MPs and Peers has recommended that the next government should introduce a maximum time limit of 28 days on the length of time anyone can be detained in immigration detention. The call comes in a report published today following a joint inquiry into the use of immigration detention in the UK by the APPG on Refugees and the APPG on Migration.

The panel, which included a former Cabinet Minister, a former Chief Inspector of Prisons, and a former law lord, considered evidence over 8 months, and three panel members visited the Swedish Migration Board to discuss with officials and parliamentarians the role detention plays in the Swedish immigration system.

The inquiry panel conclude that the enforcement-focused culture of the Home Office means that official guidance, which states that detention should be used sparingly and for the shortest possible time, is not being followed, resulting in too many instances of unnecessary detention.

The panel recommend that the UK government should learn from best practice abroad where alternatives to detention are used, which not only allow individuals to live in the community, but which also allow the government to maintain immigration control at a much lower cost to the state.

The panel argues that depriving an individual of their liberty for the purposes of immigration detention should be an absolute last resort and only used to effect removal.

The UK is the only country in the European Union not to have an upper time limit on detention, and the panel conclude that the lack of a time limit has significant mental health costs for detainees, as well as considerable financial costs to the taxpayer.

The panel also:

  • recommend that there should be a presumption in favour of community-based resolutions, which focus on intensive engagement with individuals in community settings, rather than relying on enforcement and detention;
  • conclude that the Detained Fast Track does not allow asylum seekers to receive the support they need and is not conducive to high quality decision making;
  • are concerned that individuals being held under immigration powers are increasingly being held in conditions tantamount to high security prison settings;
  • recommend that women who are victims of rape and sexual violence should not be detained and that pregnant women should never be detained for immigration purposes;
  • were shocked by the personal testimony they heard of people suffering from mental health conditions who were detained for prolonged periods of time and conclude that current Home Office policy puts the health of detainees at serious risk;
  • recommend that screening processes are improved to ensure that victims of trafficking are not detained and that when GPs complete a Rule 35 report they make a clinical judgement over whether any injuries are consistent with the account of torture; and
  • are concerned that current arrangements for challenging continued detention are not working and that many individuals in detention are unable to access high quality legal advice.

Sarah Teather MP, Chair of the inquiry panel and Lib Dem MP for Brent Central, said:

“The UK is an outlier in not having a time limit on detention. During the inquiry, we heard about the huge uncertainty this causes people to live with, not knowing if tomorrow they will be released, removed from the country, or continue being in detention.

“As a panel, we have concluded that the current system is expensive, ineffective and unjust. We are calling the next Government to learn from the alternatives to detention that focus on engagement with individuals in their communities, rather than relying on enforcement and deprivation of liberty.”

Paul Blomfield MP, Vice-chair of the panel and Labour MP for Sheffield Central, said:

“Current Home Office policy is that detention should be used as a last resort and for the shortest possible time. From the evidence that we heard, Home Office standard practice falls well short of this policy.

“In our report, we recommend that far fewer people should be detained, that detention should always be a last resort, and that it should only ever be for a maximum of 28 days. Other countries manage to maintain immigration control without resorting to indefinite detention. So can we.”

David Burrowes MP, a member of the inquiry panel and Conservative MP for Enfield Southgate, said:

“This inquiry is an unusual one. Immigration is on the political agenda but rarely do we unite on a cross party basis and consider the issue of immigration detention.

“The lack of a time limit is resulting in people being locked up for months and, in some cases, several years purely for administrative reasons. While there is a need to properly control our borders, people who arrive by fair means or foul must also be treated with dignity and respect throughout the immigration process.”

“The current system is failing to sufficiently do this and our report calls for an urgent rethink. We should follow the example of other countries where rates of detention are much lower and removal rates much higher.”

Right to Remain: Cross-party parliamentary inquiry into detention: “we cannot go on as we are” Written by 

On Monday afternoon, I sat nervously at my desk repeatedly pressing ‘refresh’ on my emails.

Right to Remain is very busy this month – today we will be at the support vigil for Aderonke Apata’s judicial review hearing; we’re working hard to translate into action the statement from the Afghan Minister for Refugees that the UK and others should stop deporting to Afghanistan (particularly as there is a charter flight mass deportation scheduled for 10 March); and we are organising the migrant rights bloc of the Stand Up to Racism march on 21 March in London.  Not to mention the meetings in Newcastle, Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool lined up in the next two weeks.

Yet it was none of these things that was causing my nervous tic.

The embargoed copy of the cross-party parliamentary inquiry report into detention was due to land in my inbox any moment, ahead of its public release today.  Now, maybe that doesn’t sound like the most anxiety-provoking thing, but it really is big news.  Bear with me.

This is the long-awaited report from the first ever parliamentary inquiry into detention: not into a particular group of people being detained, not looking at a particular element of the practice of immigration detention, but investigating immigration detention in its entirety.

This is the report from the cross-party inquiry panel, which includes two Ministers in the current government, a former Lord and a former Chief Inspector of Prisons.

This is the report from the panel who heard directly from people who have experienced detention, ‘experts by experience’, and – despite the poor phone reception, broken English and other technological hitches – directly from people in detention at that very moment.

This is the report from the inquiry for which Right to Remain co-hosted a group evidence-gathering session (as well as helping individuals submit written evidence to the panel).  I am still struck by just how moving and disturbing that experience was, despite many years of working with and knowing well people who have experienced detention.  I will also forever remember the incredible respect the participants had for each others’ experiences, and voices, everyone making sure that they all got to speak and supporting each other through the painful experience of recalling injustice, hardship and abuse.

Could the report live up to expectations?  The panel had heard from a wealth of experts – the experts-by-experience mentioned above, NGOs working tirelessly to mitigate the damage of detention, medical and mental health professionals, international advisors – and the need for change had been made abundantly clear.  Nearly 200 written submissions were received.

Right to Remain is opposed to all immigration detention… This report progresses the anti-detention movement a long way.

The report

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 simply because we detain far too many people unnecessarily and for far too long. The current system is expensive, ineffective and unjust.


The detention inquiry was such an important opportunity for parliament to lead the call for fundamental change to the UK’s appalling system of detaining migrants, and they have seized that opportunity.  The report is comprehensive, covering issues including the detained fast-track system, conditions in detention, internet access for people in detention, the detention of migrants in prisons, legal representation in detention, mental health, victims of trafficking and more.

What is most striking about the report, however, is its emphasis on how the whole system must change.

Sarah Teather, the Chair of the inquiry, points out that the recommendations of the report “require a very radical shift in current thinking … It may well surprise many people that this group of parliamentarians have made such radical recommendations on a difficult topic, so close to an election”.

She says that she hopes this report will “provide political courage to whoever wins the general election to whoever wins the general election to look in detail at the way we use immigration detention.  For the country and for those we detain, we cannot go on as we are”.

The recommendations

Each section of the report contains specific recommendations, which are worth reading in full as they include achievable, concrete change that could be realised relatively quickly.  For example, lifting the restrictions on using social media in detention; and reverting to the pre-2010 policy of only detaining individuals with mental health conditions in exceptional circumstances.

Of most significance, though, are the reports overarching recommendations:

  • 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 sued in the UK.

Providing the path to change

This last recommendation is key.  Here, the inquiry panel has provided the Government with the path to change.  If alternatives to detention are implemented – as expert witnesses strongly recommended in their evidence to the inquiry panel – then it follows that less people will be detained, for less time.  These alternatives cannot be crow-barred into the end of the process, as Detention Action and others have pointed out – for them to work, by the Government’s own criteria, people need to feel like they have had a fair experience of the asylum and immigration system, that they have been listened to, and that their case has been considered properly.

It is also heartening to see that the report considers the risk in implementing a time-limit, that the Home Office may begin detaining people for this maximum period by default.  The report suggests reasonable measures that can be implemented to ensure that this isn’t the case, and that the introduction of a time-limit is a positive change for those seeking the right to remain in the UK.

This route to reform should not be overlooked.  By outlining the case for alternatives for detention, and indicating the process-change that may be required for the report’s recommendations to take effect, the inquiry panel progresses the anti-detention movement a long way.    A culture-change in Government (which would feed down to the Home Office) is essential to seeing the end of immigration detention become a reality, even though we may be some way off from this ultimate goal.

What can you do?

  • Read the report, and tell everyone about it
  • Follow us on TwitterFacebook and on our blog as we will be updating you later this week on actions you can take with your local MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates
  • Celebrate such a strong report, and such welcome recommendations!

bidBID calls for immigration detention in the UK to be subject to regular, automatic judicial oversight and a time limit

There is currently no maximum period in the UK for the detention of foreign nationals under immigration powers. The UK is alone in Europe in having no upper limit on detention.

BID is opposed to the use of immigration detention. While detention continues to be used in the UK we consider that

  • it should be time limited and
  • subject to regular, automatic judicial oversight

During 2014, 857 of those people leaving detention in an immigration removal centre had been detained for longer than six months, 26 for between 2 and 4 years, and1 person for over 4 years. People are being detained in the UK despite serious mental or physical ill health, the existence of barriers to their removal, or simply because they have a criminal record.

A time limit on immigration detention in the UK would undoubtedly reduce these abuses of the use of detention.

But a time limit alone is insufficient: any period of detention must also be subject to proper consideration of the necessity of detention in the first place. If a time limit on detention is introduced in the UK, it is essential that all detainees should be protected against any maximum detention period becoming the norm.

Existing safeguards for immigration detainees are inadequate. Since the Immigration Act 2014 some decisions to release on bail made by the independent immigration tribunal can be overruled by the Home Secretary. The Home Office has failed to address practical barriers that prevent detainees getting regular access to the bail process, for example the lengthy delays in the Home Office provision of bail addresses where no suitable private address is available. BID’s regular legal advice surveys show that detainees are frequently unable to secure legal advice and representation on the fact of their continuing detention.

Immigration detainees need protection throughout their detention against arbitrary and unnecessary detention in the form of a meaningful safeguard that is both entirely independent of the Home Office, and not reliant on detainees to initiate.

This safeguard should take the form of judicial oversight of detention, comprised of regular and automatic hearings before a court empowered to consider the legality of detention (not merely to grant bail), and “impose conditions or order release” (Bingham Centre, 2013). Detainees should be brought before the court

  • On the first full day after being taken into detention, then
  • At specific and regular intervals up until any legal maximum detention period is reached, and
  • Be provided with legal representation for each hearing for as long as their detention is maintained.

The Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, (2013), ‘Immigration Detention and the Rule Of Law: Safeguarding Principles’.


– See more at:


  1. Refugee Council
  2. Migrants’ Rights Network
  3. Detention Action
  4. UNHCR
  5. Liberty
  6. Citizens UK
  7. Serco
  8. Campaign to Close Campsfield
  9. Rene Cassin

10. Refugee Action


Refugee Council Chief Executive Maurice Wren said: “Today a bright light has been shone into the darkest corners of the British immigration system and it has revealed some unpleasant secrets. Quite simply, the British Government is detaining too many people for too long.

“In the current system, asylum seekers who have done nothing wrong find themselves arbitrarily placed behind bars, on the say so of Home Office civil servants, for one primary reason: because it’s politically expedient.

“Ministers must take this opportunity to pursue wholesale reform and abandon the existing structure of immigration detention which has been shown to be grossly inefficient, hugely expensive and in direct contradiction of our most cherished British values of justice, liberty and compassion.”


Commenting on the APPG on Migration and APPG on Refugees joint inquiry report into the Use of Immigration Detention, Ruth Grove-White, Policy Director at the Migrants Rights Network said:

“Today’s report shines a light on the devastating impacts of ‘barbed wire Britain’. It exposes the UK’s rapidly mushrooming detention estate that in 2015 is widely viewed as unfair, unaccountable and dominated by the use of controversial private contractors. By creating a hostile environment for migrants at any cost, the government risks alienating communities for decades to come.

We welcome the cross-party recommendations especially a time limit of 28 days on the length of time anyone can be held in immigration detention. This would have a tremendous impact on the lives of those currently held indefinitely, without any knowledge of when they might be released and at the mercy of the Home Office.

For more information, please call Jan Brulc on 020 7336 9429 / 07726 472797 or email


  • The joint inquiry report entitled “The Report of the Inquiry into the Use of Immigration Detention in the United Kingdom – A Joint Inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees & the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration” will be published on 3 March (00:01AM). Embargoed copies are available to members of the press.
  • Migrants Rights Network supplied evidence to the inquiry about the rising use of detention in the UK.
  • The Migrants Rights Network (MRN) provides the Secretariat to the APPG on Migration. MRN is a registered charity and a leading campaigning group on migration, regularly contributing its perspective to public debate through the media and other policy fora.


Parliamentary inquiry calls for a time limit on immigration detention

The first parliamentary inquiry into the immigration detention system as a whole, published on Tuesday, has called for a time limit of 28 days on the use of immigration detention.

The cross-party panel has concluded that the current use of detention is ‘expensive, ineffective and unjust.’

Jerome Phelps, Director of Detention Action, said:

‘We are delighted that parliamentarians from across the political spectrum are recognising the disastrous consequences of the overuse of detention.  The inquiry is right that it is not enough to tinker with conditions in detention.  Only wholesale reform can address the grotesquely inefficient and unjust incarceration of 30,000 migrants a year.

‘The inquiry is right that such reform should start with a time limit on detention.  The UK is unique in Europe in detaining migrants indefinitely.  They lose years of their lives in high security detention centres, wondering if they will ever be released.  It is time for a time limit.’

Souleymane, of Freed Voices, was detained for three and a half years and gave evidence at an oral hearing of the inquiry.  ‘Every day in detention is a day in hell.  It ruins people’s lives and breaks their souls.  When I gave evidence to the inquiry last year, I said we should put detention on trial.  Well, we have, and this report has found the detention estate guilty.  Now we need action.’

The inquiry calls for the development of community-based alternatives to detention, in order to end the disproportionate use of detention.

Jerome Phelps said:

‘Countries like Australia and the US are using alternatives to detention that are cheaper, less harmful and more effective in promoting compliance with immigration control.  The UK is isolated in its reliance on enforcement and detention.  Detention is not working, either for immigration control or for the people at the sharp end.’

4.   UNHCR: London, 03 March 2015

UNHCR shares MPs’ concerns over use of immigration detention

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) today welcomed the key recommendations of the report of the Joint Inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Refugees and Migration into the use of immigration detention in the UK.

“We are encouraged by important recommendations this report makes to the government, which we hope will be examined closely. The report strongly echoes some of UNHCR’s own concerns with the use of immigration detention in the UK, in particular in relation to the Detained Fast Track (DFT) procedure,” said Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, UNHCR Representative to the UK.

In 2014, nearly 14,000 asylum seekers were detained, that is more than half of those who sought protection in the UK last year from conflict, violence and persecution. Noting there will be circumstances in which individuals will need to be detained, reducing the use of detention is possible, as seen in 2010 with the government’s commitment and the progress it has made towards ending the detention of children

The report’s recommendation to introduce a maximum time limit of 28 days on the length of time anyone can be detained under immigration powers addresses one of the shortcomings UNHCR has identified in the UK’s immigration detention framework. At present, the lack of time limit leaves open the possibility of asylum seekers being detained indefinitely and without automatic judicial oversight.  In practice this has led to prolonged detention, as was evident from the testimonies given to the inquiry.  The UK is one of a handful of countries without a time limit on immigration detention.

The UK uses detention in asylum procedures more frequently than any other country in the EU. UNHCR supports the inquiry’s recommendation that decisions to detain should be exceptional.  As outlined in UNHCR’s Detention Guidelines, it is UNHCR’s view that detention should be used only as a measure of last resort.

“Seeking asylum is a legitimate act and it is a fundamental human right. In our view the detention of asylum-seekers should be avoided – these are people who are seeking protection. We are ready to work with the authorities on this and support efforts to end the routine use of detention in the asylum process and to strengthen alternatives to detention ,” said Vargas Llosa.

UNHCR’s global research has found that stringent detention regimes do not deter irregular migration, while alternatives to detention – such as reporting requirements, bail or other community supervision arrangements – can address government’s concerns regarding irregular migration and assist with functioning asylum systems. While the UK has a number of alternatives in place, UNHCR believes that there are other workable alternatives suitable to the UK. Rates of cooperation of over 90 per cent have been achieved where asylum seekers are released into alternative programmes with proper supervision and support.

Empirical evidence also demonstrates that detention is considerably more expensive compared to most alternatives, even when the short and long term negative health consequences on detainees or the impact on their later integration are excluded from the calculation.

In 2014 UNHCR launched a five-year Global Strategy ‘Beyond Detention’ to support governments to end the detention of asylum seekers and refugees. Through this strategy, UNHCR is working with governments, NGOs and civil society to address some of the main challenges and concerns around detention policies and practices. Implementation of the strategy is envisaged around the development of national action plans, which will include awareness-raising, capacity-building, strengthening partnerships, information sharing, data collection and reporting, research and monitoring. UNHCR welcomes the UK as one of the focus countries for the initial roll-out.

UNHCR’s written and oral submissions to the Joint Inquiry into the use of immigration detention in the UK have been made in the broader context of organisation’s long and continuing cooperation with the UK authorities focused on monitoring, reviewing and improving the UK’s asylum system. Since 2006, through Quality Initiative and Quality Integration projects UNHCR has monitored the operation of the DFT with the cooperation of the Home Office and issued two reports – in 2008 and 2010.


Background notes:

1. The Detained Fast Track is a procedure whereby asylum seekers are detained if the government considers their claim “can be decided quickly”, which can mean within seven to ten days. The decision whether or not an asylum seeker will enter the DFT is made at an initial interview.

2. UNHCR’s 2014 submission to the Joint Inquiry on the Use of Immigration Detention in the UK can be found here:

3. UNHCR’s Detention Guidelines can be read here:

4. UNHCR’s ‘Beyond Detention’ Global Strategy can be read here:

5. UNHCR’s 2010 audit of the Detained Fast Track can be read here, and key findings and recommendations can be found here:

6. UNHCR’s 2008 audit of the Detained Fast Track can be read here, and key findings and recommendations can be found here:


In London:

Andrej Mahecic at 07880 230987

Laura Padoan at 0777 5566127

In Geneva – UNHCR expert on detention Alice Edwards at +41 79 881 9157


Cynthia Masiyiwa at Citizens UK said: “We welcome the findings of The Report of the Inquiry into the use of Immigration Detention in the United Kingdom and are pleased that the issues around indefinite detention are finally being given light. Indefinite detention is a stain on the character of Britain. We believe it is unfair, unjust and costly, both in human terms and financially for hard working tax payers.

“Time and again we meet people who have been held in detention. Some have been held for years, others for months and weeks. What’s common between all cases is the traumatic impact this experience has; being held in prison like conditions with no knowledge as to when the situation will end.

“As the only country in Europe without a time limit for detention we fully support the recommendations of the Report. Groups of our members will be raising the issue of indefinite detention with MPs and PPC’s in a series of marginal constituency meetings between now and May to impress upon the political parties that civil society does not support the current inefficient and inhumane treatment of citizens seeking a home in the UK.”


Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said: “The scandal of limitless detention, unashamedly for administrative convenience, is one of the greatest stains on the UK’s human rights record in recent decades – a colossal and pointless waste of both public funds and human life.

“We welcome this cross-party report’s recommendation that a statutory time limit must be introduced. Now let’s hope the next Government has the courage to act.”

7.   SERCO:

PRESS NOTICE: Yarl’s Wood: Serco appoints Kate Lampard to carry out Independent Review

2 March 2015

Serco has been informed that Channel 4 News is planning to broadcast on its programme this evening ‘undercover footage’ taken inside Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre. We have not seen the footage but have been told that this includes recordings of comments made by one or more of our staff. Yarl’s Wood is managed by Serco on behalf of the Home Office. Serco does not have responsibility for providing healthcare within the centre or for the transportation of detainees.

Serco works hard to ensure that the highest standards are maintained at Yarl’s Wood. We recognise that the public needs to be confident that Yarl’s Wood is undertaking its difficult role with professionalism, care and humanity. This is why we have asked the highly respected former barrister, Kate Lampard CBE, to conduct an independent review of our work at Yarl’s Wood.

James Thorburn, Managing Director of Serco’s Home Affairs business, said: “None of the Channel 4 footage has been provided to us, so I cannot know the entirety of what was said, but I would be shocked and angry if anybody we employ was talking about people in our care in a disrespectful or obnoxious manner.   My feelings will be shared by the vast majority of our colleagues at Yarl’s Wood who take their responsibilities very seriously and I am proud of the difficult work that they do.  We will not tolerate poor conduct or disrespect and will take disciplinary action wherever appropriate.

“We work hard to ensure that the highest standards of conduct are maintained at Yarl’s Wood and Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons has found the Centre to be a safe and respectful place.  We are conscious that we are working in a particularly challenging environment at Yarl’s Wood, looking after 300 women detained during the final stages of their removal proceedings. The public will want to be confident that Yarl’s Wood is doing its difficult task with professionalism, care and humanity.  Accordingly, we have asked Kate Lampard, who has immense experience and credibility, to carry out an independent review into our work at Yarl’s Wood.”


Kate Lampard CBE is a former barrister and senior non-executive director within the National Health Service, including being Chair of South East Coast Strategic Health Authority and Vice Chair of NHS South of England.  She is also a former Deputy Chair of the Financial Ombudsman Service.  In 2012 she was appointed by the Secretary of State for Health to provide independent oversight and assurance of the Investigations into allegations of sexual abuse by the broadcaster Jimmy Savile at Leeds General Infirmary, Stoke Mandeville, Broadmoor and 29 other NHS Hospitals. The Secretary of State for Health also commissioned Kate to report and make recommendations on the lessons for the whole of the NHS arising from the Savile case. Kate’s report was published on 26 February 2015.

For more information, please contact:

Charles Carr, Tel: +44 (0)7718 194 381 and  Email:

About Serco

Serco is an international service company, which combines commercial know-how with a deep public service ethos.

Around the world, we improve essential services by managing people, processes, technology and assets more effectively. We advise policy makers, design innovative solutions, integrate systems and – most of all – deliver to the public.

Serco supports governments, agencies and companies who seek a trusted partner with a solid track record of providing assured service excellence. Our people offer operational, management and consulting expertise in the aviation, BPO, defence, education, environmental services, facilities management, health, home affairs, information and communications technology, knowledge services, local government, science and nuclear, transport, welfare to work and the commercial sectors.

More information can be found at


8.   Campaign to Close Campsfield – tel. 01865 558145 / 01993 703994


Parliamentary Inquiry recommends shortest possible period of immigration detention, up to a 28-day limit

The report of the first-ever Parliamentary Inquiry into the Use of Immigration Detention in the UK is published on Tuesday 3 March 2013.

The wide-ranging 76-page report is critical of the current regime and makes a number of proposals. Key among them 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


·        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.

Bill MacKeith of the Campaign to Close Campfield, which submitted evidence to the Inquiry, said: ‘We welcome the report as a first step to proper parliamentary scrutiny of immigration detention in the UK. We support the recommendations. We shall continue to call for the end of the power to imprison innocent people incorporated in the 1971 Immigration Act and for the closure of Campsfield and all immigration detention centres”


Campaign to Close Campsfield: Bill 01865 558145, Liz 07791 738 577, Tim 07721 771 835 Gill 01993 703994




Jewish charity welcomes parliamentary report on detained asylum-seekers and urges Government to act The charity René Cassin welcomes today’s report by The Parliamentary Inquiry into the use of Immigration Detention in the UK. The report damns current policy as ” … expensive, ineffective and unjust”. René Cassin particularly welcomes the recommendation that the UK ends the practice of holding some asylum-seekers indefinitely and introduces an upper limit of 28 days’ detention.

The UK is currently unique in Europe in having no time limit – and some migrants are kept in detention for years. Even Russia has set a time limit for immigration detention, and there is mounting pressure on the Government to act to prevent damage to the UK’s international reputation for defending human rights René Cassin’s campaigns director Sam Grant, said:

“This country is rightly proud of its record of providing a safe haven to refugees from oppression and violence. But its current treatment of large number of asylum-seekers – locking innocent and vulnerable people up indefinitely – is inhumane and blights that reputation. Jewish experience of immigration to this country is still very raw and recent. How would I have wanted my grandparents to be met off the kindertransport – with further fear, humiliation and uncertainty? But, scandalously, that is exactly what many of today’s migrants to the UK have to face.

[Ends] Notes for editors 1. For more information contact Sam Grant at René Cassin – or 020 7443 5131

2. The Report of the Inquiry into the Use of Immigration Detention in the United Kingdom is attached as a PDF

3. The inquiry was conducted by Parliament’s all-party groups on refugees and migration, under the chair of Sarah Teather MP –

4. Rene Cassin’s submitted evidence to the inquiry –  – and also helped asylumseekers affected by detention submit their own evidence.

5. René Cassin has campaigned for a time limit to asylum detention as part of the Detention Forum – – a wide coalition of charities, NGOs and faith groups.

6. The charity René Cassin is named after the French-Jewish co-drafter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights


10.  Refugee Action

Refugee Action echoes MPs urgent calls for immigration detention reform

Refugee Action welcomes the findings of a damning report released today into the state of immigration detention in the UK and urges the government to apply the key recommendations.

The Joint Inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Groups of Refugees and Migration’s report into the use of immigration detention in the UK criticised the government for detaining people for indefinite amounts of time and disproportionately frequently.

Refugee Action submitted written evidence to the inquiry and strongly endorses the key recommendations of this report, including:

  • No one should be held for more than 28 days
  • The government should stop detaining people disproportionately frequently
  • Detention should be rare, for a short period and only to effect removal
  • A wider range of alternatives to detention need to be introduced

In the report, Sarah Teather MP, Chair of the Inquiry, said:

“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.”

As a member of the detention forum Refugee Action has advocated for a more humane detention system. Research by Refugee Action last year revealed the severe detrimental impact of detention on the physical and mental health on detainees, as well as problems with access to legal advice.

The research found that a majority of those interviewed (62 per cent) said that they had developed a physical or mental health condition whilst in detention and almost two-thirds of those who said that they had requested medical assistance had not received it or stated that they had been given inadequate support.

Stephen Hale, Chief Executive of Refugee Action, said:

“Refugee Action welcomes the report and thoroughly agrees that the current detention process has too high a cost in financial terms and to the physical and mental wellbeing of detainees.”

ONS migration statistics released last week stated a 24 per cent (2,796) increase in the number of people in detention. This number correlates closely to the 2,500 people Refugee Action were projected to support through the discontinued Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) programme between April 2014 and April 2015.

“Our concern is that if AVR had remained in immigration removal centres it would have saved the tax payer a lot of money and afforded those 2,500 people much greater respect and dignity, and prevented unnecessary stays in detention.”

“Refugee Action’s ‘Choices’ AVR programme helped detainees make informed decisions on whether to voluntarily return to their countries through AVR programmes and provided support. We believe the decision to end AVR in detention was flawed. Immigration detainees should be eligible for AVR and be supported to consider their future,” said Stephen Hale.


Media enquiries

Please contact Refugee Action’s media team on 07771 748 159 for interviews with spokespeople and former detainees.