New Detention Action report on alternatives: ‘Without Detention’


Detention Action today launches a new report, ‘Without Detention’, highlighting the opportunities for community-based alternatives to reduce the detention of migrants in the UK.


The report outlines how international and UK good practices could be built on to develop a systematic approach to migration governance that avoids the use of detention wherever possible, prioritising meaningful engagement with migrants over harmful and costly enforcement.

The Government’s recent announcement of the closure of Dungavel detention centre, the third such announcement in 18 months, underlines the potential for a shift away from detention.  Yet the UK still has one of the largest detention estates in Europe, with over 30,000 migrants detained annually.

After the scathing criticisms of the Parliamentary Inquiry and the Shaw Review, the report argues that alternatives to detention can potentially lead to a sustainable and long-term reduction in detention.

Jerome Phelps, Director of Detention Action, said:
‘There is abundant evidence that detention is not necessary for the Government’s immigration governance objectives.  With support and engagement, migrants can resolve their cases in the community, without detention.  Civil society and communities have a crucial role to play in developing alternatives that can reduce government’s use of detention.’

Kasonga, of the Freed Voices group of experts-by-experience, said:
‘Freed Voices members lost twenty years of our lives inside the walls of detention. The fact we are now in the community, fighting for an end to detention so others don’t have to experience this hell, shows how ineffective the system is. No-one benefits from detention. Alternatives can address the inhumanity of the Government’s current detention policy and its ongoing criminalisation of migrants. We need trust, not walls.’

Eiri Ohtani, Project Director of Detention Forum, said: ‘The detention reform discussion must move beyond the level of what happens inside the detention centres or how to get people out of detention.  Development of community-based alternatives is a vital step towards demonstrating that detention is not a necessary part of migration governance system.’

You can read the report in full, here.