Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East MP Stuart McDonald has been named a Detention Forum Champion by members of the Detention Forum and local civil society organisations for his outstanding contribution to immigration detention reform. Stuart joins Paul Blomfield MP, who was presented with a Detention Forum Champion trophy in Sheffield earlier this month.

In his role as SNP spokesperson on Immigration, Asylum and Border Control and as a prominent member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Stuart has been an outspoken critic of the current system of immigration detention in Scotland and across the UK.

The large scale, routine detention of thousands of human beings in private prisons for an indeterminate period at the discretion of immigration officers is a stain on our democracy and an affront to the rule of law.

Stuart McDonald MP

People in immigration detention are held indefinitely in prison-like conditions, with no idea if or when they will be released. They include people with ongoing asylum applications and victims of torture and human trafficking.

Scotland has one detention centre, at Dungavel in South Lanarkshire, which holds up to 250 people. Nearly 30,000 people are detained in Dungavel, other detention centres and prisons across the UK each year.

Recent revelations about the UK government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy have brought new levels of interest in immigration detention. The UK is the only country in Europe with no time-limit on detention. 20,000 people have been put on suicide watch in detention since 2007. Suicide attempts have been revealed to be at a rate of more than one a day. Roughly half of people in detention do not have any legal representation. Over half of those detained each year are released back into the community, their detention serving no purpose.

Scottish Detainee Visitors work with people while they are detained in Dungavel and after they have been released, and every day we see the harm indefinite detention does to individuals, families and communities. We want to see the introduction of a strict time limit on detention and a move to community based alternatives. Stuart has done excellent work in parliament aimed at introducing this kind of reform into the system and it’s a pleasure to be able to recognise that work today.

Kate Alexander, Scottish Detainee Visitors

Radical reform of the detention system, including the introduction of a 28-day time limit, has been backed by the SNP, Labour, the Greens, the Lib Dems and some senior Conservatives, as well as human rights organisations including Amnesty and Liberty, and professional bodies including the Bar Council, the British Medical Association and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons.

Stuart has been a leading light in pushing detention reform up the agenda and has been one of the strongest advocates for the introduction of a strict time limit. We’re delighted to be able to recognise his contribution today.

Simon Hilditch, Detention Action

Stuart has been at the forefront of pushing detention reform up the agenda and representatives from the Detention Forum alongside Scottish Detainee VisitorsDetention ActionGlasgow QuakersJustice & Peace Scotland and Global Justice Glasgow came together last week to recognise his contribution, presenting him with a Detention Forum Champion trophy.

You can read Stuart’s article calling for a time limit on immigration detention here.