Last week the Immigration Act 2016 received Royal Assent. In response to the provisions contained within the Act, the assurances made by Ministers, and the concerns raised in both Houses, members of the cross-party panel of the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Use of Immigration Detention have made the following statement:
“Just over a year ago, we concluded that the UK detains too many people, for too long a time, and that in far too many cases people are detained completely unnecessarily. In our report, we recommended that there should be a time limit of 28 days placed on the length of time anyone can be held in immigration detention, that detention should always be a last resort and that pregnant women should never be detained under any circumstances.
“As the Immigration Bill made its way through both Houses of Parliament, we tabled and supported amendments reflecting the recommendations made in our report. We would like to thank Ministers for their engagement with us on these issues, in particular the Immigration Minister James Brokenshire and Lord Michael Bates, as well as those other parliamentarians who supported calls for reform.
“We are disappointed that the Government continues in its opposition to an overall time limit, despite the growing evidence that indefinite detention has an extremely negative mental health impact, costs more to the public purse and is less effective than alternative immigration enforcement models. We are also disappointed that the Government has not accepted our case for an absolute exclusion of pregnant women from detention. However, we welcome the recognition of the need for automatic judicial oversight of immigration detention, as well as the introduction of a time limit for how long pregnant women can be detained.
“Stephen Shaw’s report following his review of the impact of detention on vulnerable people was published during the course of the Bill, and many of his findings and recommendations echoed those that we made. We note that the Government have said that they expect the reforms they have initiated in response to the Shaw report, as well as the amendments passed to the Immigration Act, will reduce the number of people in detention as well as the length of time people are detained, but we remain concerned that they may not produce the system and culture change that is needed. We also reiterate our recommendation that the Government should introduce a much wider range of alternatives to detention and call on the Home Office to commission research into best practice in this area.”
“In the weeks and months ahead we will be closely monitoring the implementation and impact of the Government’s reforms to ensure those expectations are met and we welcome the news that the Stephen Shaw will be asked to do a follow-up review. If they are not met, we will push for further legislative changes. We will continue to argue for a maximum time limit and for the absolute exclusion of pregnant women from detention, defending the United Kingdom’s proud tradition of upholding justice and the right to liberty.”
Paul Blomfield MP (Chair of the APPG on Migration, Vice-Chair of the Inquiry into the Use of Immigration Detention in the United Kingdom)
David Burrowes MP
Richard Fuller MP
Baroness Sally Hamwee
Baroness Ruth Lister
Lord David Ramsbotham