About us

Thousands of people are held in high security immigration detention centres without any time limit. Many are asylum seekers whose claims have been refused or are being processed.  Others are non-UK citizens or refugees who have completed prison sentences, often after living lawfully in the UK for many years.  Others have overstayed their visas. They are often distressed at being locked up in the UK, traumatised by their experiences in their home country and fearful of being forcibly returned. Isolated and confused, many experience depression and psychological deterioration.


People in immigration detention centres often have very limited understanding of English, the legal system or their rights. Detention Action provides the vital support and advice that they need to cope in detention and navigate the system.

We support people held in Harmondsworth and Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centres, near Heathrow Airport in London, and people held under immigration powers in London prisons. We are completely independent from the government and from the detention centres.

“I was fortunate to know Detention Action.They set me up with a visitor who came to see me and talk to me every week. They helped me with my solicitor, referring me to other organisations like Medical Justice. It’s only with the help of a network of support that someone in detention can be brought up out of a state of despair, otherwise you just can’t function. Detention Action’s support brought me confidence and the knowledge that I am not alone.” William Kapato, Liberia, detained for 3 years.


Detention Action campaigns for an end to indefinite detention in the UK and the introduction of alternatives to detention. We lobby government, produce authoritative research and organise events to raise awareness about the injustice that people in detention are facing. We challenge stereotypes and ensure that people in immigration detention centres are not invisible and unheard.


Annual Reports

Detention Action Annual Report 2012

Detention Action Annual Report 2011

London Detainee Support Group Annual Report 2010


Detention Action is funded by:

Allen Lane Foundation

Barrow Cadbury Trust

Bromley Trust

Eleanor Rathbone Charitable Trust

Esmee Fairbairn Foundation

European Programme for Integration and Migration

Henry Smith Charity

Jill Franklin Trust

Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust

Lloyds Foundation

the Oak Foundation

Odin Charitable Trust

Paul Hamlyn Foundation

Trust for London

the Tudor Trust.

Charity registration no. 1065066.