The Government's latest immigration statistics make the senseless cruelty of our detention system painfully clear

Posted by Rachel Robinson on 22 February 2018

Today the Home Office published its quarterly immigration statistics.

At first blush it seems there’s been modest progress, with the number of those held in detention during 2017 down slightly on the previous year.

But look closer and the senseless cruelty of our immigration detention system becomes painfully clear.

The Government’s data shows precious little reduction in the number of people entering detention.

End indefinite detention

While more people are being released, most simply return to the community. Fewer and fewer people are removed from the country after their detention – rendering their suffering a pointless attack on their fundamental right to liberty.

As opposition to indefinite detention grows, the Home Office clings to a broken system which is as ineffective as it is inhumane.

What’s more, there’s been an increase in the percentage of people spending longer than 28 days in detention.

In the last quarter of 2017, a disgraceful 70 per cent of people were held for longer than 28 days, compared to 64 per cent a year earlier.

The list of the top 20 longest periods spent in detention makes for grim reading. As of December 2017, someone had spent a horrifying 1,698 days – almost five years – locked up for the convenience of the Home Office.

Chances are he’s still there, with no idea of when – or even if – he’ll make it out.

The nips and tucks introduced by the Government in the wake of Stephen Shaw’s damning report have failed to address the harm caused by the UK’s indefinite detention regime.

Research conducted by Women for Refugee Women last year suggests that even among extremely vulnerable people, lengthy detention remains the norm.

Of the asylum-seeking women they spoke to, 88 per cent had been detained for more than a month and 73 per cent for more than three months.

As if this weren’t bad enough, more than 85 per cent of the women in their study had experienced sexual or gender-based violence.

The need for a time limit on detention has never been clearer and, as we decide what kind of immigration system we want after Brexit, the time for action is now.

Sign Liberty’s petition and tell Amber Rudd #itsabouttime for a 28 day time limit on detention.

Rachel Robinson

Rachel Robinson

Liberty
Policy and Advocacy Manager