Thank you to everyone who has contacted me in recent weeks about immigration detention and whether there should be a time limit to prevent indefinite detention.
I believe indefinite detentions in our immigration and asylum system must end and I support proposals for a statutory limit on the length of time people can be held in immigration removal centres (IRCs).
I have voted to amend the Government’s Immigration Bill on more than one occasion to introduce a 28-day limit on administrative detentions in our immigration system. Most recently, I voted to retain a Lords amendment on this issue on 19 October 2020. Unfortunately, Government MPs voted against it and it was removed from the Bill by 328 votes to 264.
While the Government insists that there is no policy for indefinite detentions, official statistics show that 456 people leaving detention in the year ending June 2020 had been detained for more than 6 months. It seems to me that if someone is in an IRC with no idea of when they will be released, it will certainly feel like indefinite detention to them.
It is overwhelmingly apparent that serious systemic problems exist in our current detention system. The courts and all parliamentary and inspectorate investigations in recent years have found fundamental failings. Long-term detention of mentally ill and vulnerable people also remains a serious problem and I do not believe the Adults at Risk in Immigration Detention guidance provides a sufficient level of protection.
It is a glaring failure of policy that there is currently no time limit on immigration detention in the UK. It causes unnecessary human pain and is a waste of resources to trap people in detention indefinitely with no definitive answer provided on their immigration status. That is why I share the view that the case for immigration detention reform is long overdue.