In this, our sixth year, many of you will already be familiar with Unlocking Detention. But by way of introduction for newcomers, Unlocking Detention is a ‘virtual tour’ of the UK’s vast immigration detention estate. Using Twitter, Facebook and a website to ‘unlock’ the gates of immigration detention centres, it shines a spotlight on the hidden world of immigration detention.  

Before each ‘tour’ however, there is an internal discussion of the same question: can we stop the ‘tour’ now? Ideally, we would prefer not to continue. And in fact, since our launch, we have stopped visiting Haslar, Dover, The Verne and Campsfield detention centres – because they have been closed down. They are gone forever. Far more people than when we started in 2014 are now aware of immigration detention and are demanding change. 

While the number of people being detained has been steadily decreasing and there are some promising indications that it might fall even further with time, we are not there yet. We still have no time limit on immigration detention, vulnerable people are routinely detained, there is no automatic judicial oversight on detention decision-making and community-based alternative to detention pilots – which have been finally introduced – are still in their infancy. Things might get worse as well, if demonization of migrants and people seeking refugee protection doesn’t get stopped. 

What's next? | Unlocked19

What’s next then?

Our team agreed to think about the following while preparing for this year’s Unlocking Detention. 

  • Why do we value collaboration between different actors? What does collaboration actually look and feel like?
  • What do we look forward to when we think about the future of anti-detention campaign and advocacy?
  • Where should our energy be next? What do we think we need to do differently? What should we do more or less of? 

By the time Unlocking Detention tour ends this year, we will know the result of the General Election. Whatever happens, regrettably, immigration detention is going to continue and we need to keep on fighting for a different kind of world. We hope you take some inspiration from Unlocking Detention and take action to challenge immigration detention.

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Unlocking Detention team – Catherine, Charlotte, Eiri, Gala, Jun, Mishka, Shadia and Sylvia