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The latest detention statistics released today reveal that the Government is failing to drastically reduce the use of immigration detention as recommended by the Parliamentary Inquiry and the Government-commissioned Shaw Review. Nearly 28,000 migrants are still entering detention a year and the number of people in detention in any given time has remained stable.
The Government promised reform more than 18 months ago, in response to the Shaw Review which urged the Government to take action ‘boldly and without delay’. The second Shaw Review is scheduled to start on 4 September.
The statistics show no change in the UK’s trend of long-term detention. More than one in three people leaving detention had been detained longer than 29 days, a trend that has remained for years.
The Parliamentary Inquiry to the Use of Immigration Detention in 2015 concluded that UK detains far too many people for far too long and urged the government to radically reform its detention system, starting with an introduction of a 28-day time limit. The government has repeatedly resisted attempts by parliamentarians to introduce a legal time limit, most recently during the passage of Immigration Act 2016.
As at 30 June 2017, the longest length of time a person had been detained for was 1,514 days, in excess of four years.
In the last quarter, 52% who left detention were returned back to the community and not removed, raising questions over the necessity of detention. Again, the proportion of those who are released back to the community after detention has remained stable over time.
Eiri Ohtani, the Project Director of the Detention Forum said:
‘Overall, what we see in today’s detention statistics is that, despite ministerial commitment to reform, little has changed on the ground for thousands of people and their families and communities who are caught up in this damaging and distressing detention system.
New policies, procedures and processes have been ineffective in reducing the reliance on detention.
The Government should concede the futility of tweaking the system and instead implement radical and fundamental change, to create a fair and humane migration governance system.
We believe it is possible for the system to change. There should be a 28-day time limit on detention, automatic judicial oversight for everyone in detention, a robust screening and assessment that ends detention of vulnerable people and a wider range of community-based alternative to detention. Such measures will lead to a drastic reduction of detention and improve the fairness and trust in the system.
The Detention Forum and our partners stand ready to advise the Government on how these steps can be implemented.’