Earlier this week, (in an unlikely turn of events), the Daily Mail featured an article exploring the financial wastefulness of the detention estate.
Pointing to the £21 million the Home Office has paid out over the last five years in compensation due to unlawful detention, the Mail highlighted the innate inefficiency of the Home Office’s addiction to indefinite detention. The figures, unearthed by Tory former minister Andrew Mitchell in a written question to the department, show the cost of unlawful detention claims was £3.3 million in 2016/17, £4.1 million in 2015/16, £4 million in 2014/15, £4.8 million in 2013/14 and £5 million in 2012/13.
To mark this wanton wastefulness, we asked a few members of the #FreedVoices group what they felt that £21 million could have better been spent on:
Juan: “I think the most important thing, the best thing, we could have used this money for is to educate people on what the Home Office does wrong. We could have used it for a national tour! And anyway, what does this compensation really cover? There are so many people who should not be in detention and we all spent so much money paying solicitor fees when we were there. Does the compensation include this? Does it include the time we couldn’t work when we were in detention? I was a mess when I came out. Does it include the time my friends took off their own work to look after me?”
Isaac: “I can’t speak for those people that received the money in compensation but I think that most of them would prefer the right to work. Whatever the money they might get, they would prefer stability and the chance to input into the country. That input would benefit the country, it would benefit everyone. Even the Government itself. Give us status, not pitiful pay-outs.”
Mishka: “They could have easily invested this money into community-based alternatives. If they did this now, instead of going along with the indefinite detention, it would mean they would be paying out again in 2019, 2020, 2021 etc. Which I am sure they will continue to do. They should also look to address the root of the problem. There is clearly something seriously wrong with those people deciding if people should be detained in the first place. They clearly need some extra training. Some of the money should go towards training Home Office staff to practice the policies they preach rather than those they practice. Fifty-five percent of all those detained are released and they are released with PTSD and serious trauma. This £21 million could have gone towards setting up free rehabilitation programmes for all those who experience detention.”
Jose: “Oooo, where do I even start…It is money that could have been spent on the NHS; on homeless shelters; on resources for those countries the British colonised and stole from; on re-building the legal aid system; on improving a broken education system so that the next generation of leaders actually govern with some common sense.”