28 Sep to 4 Oct – the Unlocking Detention team looks back on the week when the tour visited Haslar Immigration Removal Centre in Portsmouth.

After looking at the Short Term Holding Centres and prisons which are used for immigration detention, Unlocking Detention tour’s very first proper visit was to Haslar Immigration Removal Centre.

While getting ready for the tour, we were very lucky to be able to make contact with Charlie who shared his research with us on our website.


We first got in touch with Charlie over Twitter because he mentioned that he was helping someone in detention to contribute to the ongoing parliamentary inquiry into immigration.  This was Henry, who also contributed a blog in the end, ‘Too many laws, not enough justice’.
Henry, at the time, was going through an extremely stressful and uncertain period, facing deportation to a country that he had not set his foot on for over 30 years.

Lots of emails were exchanged between us, trying to consider all the possible implications of Henry publicly speaking about his experience at such a critical point in time not just on himself but also his family members and helping Henry decide whether to go ahead with publishing his blog.  In the end, Henry was adamant that his story should be told.
So while Charlie wrote about immigration detention from the outside, Henry wrote about it from the inside.

Not only were they complementary, they were also very powerful together, especially when read side-by-side.

We were also pleased to see that it prompted many comments, which you can see below Henry’s blog on this page.  We want to reprint one such comment in full here to share with all of you.

‘This article has touched my heart. I know this having been exactly through the same predicament. I was in Haslar for close to 6 months and my family were over 250 miles away from me. I was also considered a “threat to the society”? After being released on temporary admission I spent a further 11 months on electronic tag. I was eventually granted limited stay after a long and winding legal wrangle. The whole process has scarred me for life. Like Henry said, “I dont even wish that on my enemy”. As I speak now, I’m a Team Leader where I work with elderly people and I’m in my 2nd year studying for a degree in Accounting and Finance. My wife on the other hand is a first year Student Nurse. I cannot comprehend how the Home Office labelled me 6 years ago that my presence is/was not conducive for the public good.’

And Henry’s story was also featured in a local newspaper, which you can read here.

By Unlocking Detention team