‘Being locked up in detention in the UK is like receiving a life-sentence. My crime? I’m a migrant.’ Kasonga, Freed Voices.
Like it or loathe it, on 8 June 2017 we are having a general election. From Brexit to future immigration policy and Britain’s role in protecting refugees, migration is likely to feature highly in the manifestos of all parties. With less than a month to go, we have a short window of time to make sure that detention reform is top of the political agenda.
Indefinite detention is ineffective, expensive and harmful: we need a 28 day time limit
As the only country in Europe to detain migrants indefinitely, the UK has been criticised by a wide range of actors. Despite promised reform, progress has been piecemeal and slow. We are asking all parties to commit to introducing a 28 day time limit on immigration detention because as things stand, the UK’s over-reliance on detention is not only ineffective and expensive, but also increasingly harmful.
Ineffective: Long term detention does not lead to higher deportation rates. In fact, the longer someone is detained, the more likely that they will be released from detention. In 2016, 62% of people detained for more than 28 days were released back into the community after their detention.
Expensive: The cost of running the detention estate in 2013/14 was £164.4m. Independent research by Matrix Evidence has found that £76 million per year is wasted on the long-term detention of migrants who are ultimately released. In addition, between 2012 and 2015 the Home Office paid out almost £14 million in compensation following claims for unlawful detention.
Harmful: The physical and mental health problems caused by detention are well documented. Since 2000, 31 people have died in UK detention centres. Recent statistics from the HMIP inspection into Morton Hall show that incidents of self harm have tripled. Suicide attempts across the detention estate in 2016 totalled at 341, one almost every day.
What can you do?
- Ask your candidates if they agree it’s #Time4aTimeLimit on detention. You can email, tweet, or ask questions at hustings. The deadline for nominations for candidates is 12 May, but you can find out already confirmed candidates by using the Who Can I Vote For? website.
- If your candidates do not know about immigration detention, feel free to share our latest briefing explaining why political parties should sign up to the 28 day time limit.
- Or you can use Detention Forum’s supporter action pack with example tweets and a sample letter you can send/email to your candidates.
- Elections are all about what happens at local level. Can you ask your friends and family to do the same and support the call for a time limit?