Photo credit: JRS UK

We are delighted to announce that Dame Caroline Spelman MP received the Detention Forum Champion Award last week. JRS UK, one of our member organisations, kindly presented her with the Award in her Westminster office.

Dame Caroline was a panel member of the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Use of Immigration Detention in 2014/15. Since then, she has been a prominent supporter of a detention reform, calling for an end to indefinite immigration detention and greater protection for vulnerable people. Her sustained voice calling for change has greatly contributed to the shift in the Government’s approach to immigration detention: in July, the Home Secretary announced a detention reform programme, including development of an alternative to detention pilot and an internal review of time limits.

Dame Caroline said: “It was a huge honour to be presented with the Detention Forum Champion award by JRS UK today. All too often refugees and asylum seekers are unnecessarily held in immigration detention centres for far too long. The very least we can do is speak up for those whose own voices cannot be heard.”

Eiri Ohtani, Project Director of the Detention Forum said: “When the Detention Forum started almost 10 years ago, there were few parliamentarians who were prepared to speak publicly about immigration detention. We deeply appreciate her continuing efforts to make sure people whose lives are damaged by immigration detention are not forgotten by the Government and much-needed changes.”

She continued: “Upon receiving the Award, Caroline immediately dedicated it to one of her constituents who overcame many obstacles during her long and fraught journey to be finally recognised as a refugee in the UK. She shared with us her experience of supporting this constituent over many years and what she had learned during that process. It was a powerful reminder that deep connections with other human beings can be a driver for people to take action, including politicians.”

Dame Caroline was given the Award as part the Detention Forum’s Unlocking Detention, a virtual ‘tour’ of the UK’s immigration detention estate. The Detention Forum Champion Awards are presented to politicians whose work has made outstanding contribution to detention reform advocacy. Paul Blomfield MP and Stuart McDonald MP also received the Award earlier this year: you can read about them here and here.

You can also read JRS UK’s blog about the Award here. We would like to thank JRS UK for supporting this event.