"My experience in detention broke the trust I had in the Government, and the country I have lived in for the last twenty years."
Kasonga, held in Harmondsworth and Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centres
The UK’s regime of routine immigration detention is one of the largest in Europe – and, because there’s no time limit, it’s the most draconian.
Detention centres fail to meet even basic standards of safety and respect, with instances of fatal use of restraint, denial of medical treatment, filthy and overcrowded conditions and allegations of sexual abuse.
Reports suggest 10 people died in detention in 2017 alone. Most took their own lives.
Research by the British Medical Association, Amnesty International, Women for Refugee Women and many others has laid bare the serious mental and physical harm indefinite detention causes – not just to people in detention, but to their children and loved ones.
The human cost of immigration detention is huge – but it also fails to deliver the gains politicians want. Every year, the Government wastes around £76 million of taxpayers’ money on the long-term detention of people who it ultimately releases.
Other countries use a range of effective alternatives to detention which have led to low rates of detention and high rates of voluntary return.
"This practice, usually described as internment, is normally only encountered during wartime to manage a threat posed by enemy aliens to national security."
Reverend Nathan Ward, former duty director at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre
The chorus of voices calling for this to end is diverse and growing.
The UK’s routine use of immigration detention has been condemned by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Prisons, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, a cross-party parliamentary inquiry and the Government’s own expert reviewer, Stephen Shaw.
Serious human rights violations are commonplace in UK immigration centres. Since 2010, courts have ruled six times that people’s treatment in those centres breached their rights under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right not to suffer torture or inhuman and degrading treatment.