Category Archives: Press release

MPs back calls to end indefinite immigration detention

In a significant move today, the House of Commons passed a motion calling for radical reform of the UK’s immigration detention system, including the introduction of a maximum time limit on how long people can be detained.

The motion was passed after a three hour debate on a report published earlier this year by the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Refugees and Migration. In the report, a cross-party group of parliamentarians argued that the Government has an overreliance on detention, which should only ever be used a last resort.

A key recommendation of the report was that a 28 day time limit on detention should be introduced and this recommendation was highlighted by many of the MPs who took part in the debate. MPs also spoke about the conditions people are held in, with Conservative MP David Burrowes saying that despite most people held in Immigration Removal Centres having never been convicted of any crime they have to endure “prison-like conditions for administrative reasons”.

The report was the result of an inquiry carried out by a cross-party panel of parliamentarians including a former Cabinet Minister, a former Chief Inspector of Prisons, and a former law lord.

Commenting after the debate, Labour MP for Sheffield Central Paul Blomfield, who was vice-chair of the inquiry, said:

“In a week where the focus has been on how we support vulnerable people abroad, it is important that we also consider how we treat those who are already on our shores. Today’s debate highlighted the damaging effect indefinite detention has on detainees. Community-based alternatives in other countries are not only more humane but have proved to be less expensive and more effective.”

“During today’s debate the message from MPs from all parties and from all over the country was clear – it’s time for a time limit. The Government should listen to the growing number of voices calling for reform and act now.”

Chief Inspector of Prisons Supports Call for a Time Limit on Detention

A report published today by the Chief Inspector of Prisons has labelled Yarl’s Wood IRC a “place of national concern”.

Inspectors found dozens of pregnant women have been held at the facility in Bedfordshire against Government policy, while some are being held for more than a year because of “unacceptable” delays in processing their cases. In one case a woman had been held for 17 months. The prisons watchdog also found the centre is understaffed and healthcare services have declined “severely”.

Commenting on the report, Members of Parliament David Burrowes and Richard Fuller have called on the Government to respond positively to the inspection team’s recommendations. Fuller and Burrowes both served on the Parliamentary Inquiry into Immigration Detention – a cross-party inquiry run by the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Refugees and Migration – which recommended that a time limit of 28 days be placed on the length of time anyone can be held in an immigration removal centre.

In the HMIP report, the Chief Inspector Nick Hardwick supported the call for a time limit, saying “Other well-respected bodies have recently called for time limits on administrative detention. In my view, the rigorously evidenced concerns we have identified in this inspection provide strong support for these calls, and a strict time limit must now be introduced on the length of time that anyone can be administratively detained.”

Fuller and Burrowes, along with Labour MP Paul Blomfield, recently secured a parliamentary debate on the use of immigration detention. The debate will take place in the House of Commons on 10 September.

Commenting on the report, Richard Fuller, MP for Bedford, said:

“It is unacceptable that vulnerable women, including pregnant women and survivors of sexual violence, are locked up indefinitely at Yarl’s Wood when their cases could be considered just as efficiently while they are living in the community.

“I hope that my colleagues in Parliament will carefully consider this report from HMIP, and I hope that we can start to build a true political consensus for reform in the Parliamentary debate which is scheduled for 10 September. It is time to build an asylum process which is effective and which respects the dignity and humanity of vulnerable individuals, while preserving strong borders.”

The Conservative MP for Enfield Southgate David Burrowes added:

“This report adds further weight to the parliamentary inquiry’s conclusion that the current system of detaining people without a time limit works neither for taxpayers nor detainees.

“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 of immigration detention is failing to do this.

“The Chief Inspector has echoed the panel’s call for a time limit. I urge my colleagues in the Government to respond positively when the House of Commons debates this matter in September.”