28 March 2012
Support our work: become a Friend of Statewatch from as little as £1/€1 per month.
The charity Detention Action is calling for an end to indefinite immigration detention in the UK, arguing that the system currently in place does not work "for anyone".
"In the UK, migrants are deprived of their liberty without charge or trial," says the charity's campaign briefing. "The UK Border Agency detains migrants for longer than any other country in Europe. Asylum-seekers, foreign ex-offenders and other migrants are held in prison-like conditions without time limit." 
The charity is calling for people to raise the matter with their MP by either writing a letter or booking an appointment, or by planning an event with the help of Detention Action. 
A campaign video features a narrative based on a letter sent by a detained migrant to a friend:
"I don't feel safe here. I am living in a nightmare. Struggling day, after day, after day, not knowing when they will let me out. Every part of my individual identity and dignity has been removed, without any hope. I feel totally degraded and dehumanised. By imposing this extreme, indefinite confinement, they have taken away my freedom - emotional, physical and intellectual freedom…
"After more than three years of being locked up in here, they still won't tell me when they will let me free. I am going through torture. The fear and despair I feel is overwhelming."
Detention Action say that the cost to the taxpayer to detain one person for a year is £47,000, which "wastes £75,000,000,000 a year" in total.
The UK is the only country in Europe that routinely detains migrants indefinitely - including survivors of torture, as documented by Medical Justice  - and has opted out of European legislation (the Returns Directive) that would limit the length of detention periods.
According to joint report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons and the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration in December 2012, 3,034 detainees were held under immigration law in March 2012. This included children and victims of trafficking and torture. 42 detainees had spent more than two years in detention. The longest detained person amongst interviewees had spent nearly five years locked up. 
The absence of automatic judicial review of detention orders and the lack of regular, coherent and appropriate reviews of detention raised concern for the inspectors. In 59% of cases detention was not reviewed by the right authority.
The report stressed that detention should only occur when detainees can be deported or removed within a reasonable period. The UK's bail guidance for immigration judges says that "three months would be considered a substantial period of time and six months a long period." 
More information on Detention Action's campaign is available on their website.
 Detention Action, Detention doesn't work... for anyone campaign briefing, December 2012
 Detention Action, Take action
 Natasha Tsangarides, "The Second Torture": The immigration detention of torture survivors, Medical Justice, May 2012
 HM Inspectorate of Prisons and the independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, The effectiveness and impact of immigration detention casework, December 2012
 Mr Clements, Bail guidance for judges presiding over immigration and asylum hearings, 11 June 2012
Spotted an error? If you've spotted a problem with this page, just click once to let us know.
Statewatch does not have a corporate view, nor does it seek to create one, the views expressed are those of the author. Statewatch is not responsible for the content of external websites and inclusion of a link does not constitute an endorsement. Registered UK charity number: 1154784. Registered UK company number: 08480724. Registered company name: The Libertarian Research & Education Trust. Registered office: MayDay Rooms, 88 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1DH. © Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X. Personal usage as private individuals "fair dealing" is allowed. We also welcome links to material on our site. Usage by those working for organisations is allowed only if the organisation holds an appropriate licence from the relevant reprographic rights organisation (eg: Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK) with such usage being subject to the terms and conditions of that licence and to local copyright law.