No shirking: hold the government accountable for promises they made to overhaul the UK’s detention system


The people demanded radical change.

The Detention Inquiry and the Shaw Review recommended change.

The government promised change.

So…Where is it?

20410173726_7f126fd77b_k-e1455977446260Thanks to the courage and determination of experts-by-experience to stand up and speak out about the realities of detention – from the Freed Voices group, to members of Right to Remain’s #TheseWallsMustFall advocacy group, to the campaigners of Movement for Justice that crowded Yarl’s Wood last week – detention has become a mainstream issue. Thousands have joined the fight against the Government’s inhumane, wasteful and sometimes lethal, policy of indefinite detention.

Both the Detention Inquiry and the Home Office’s own Shaw Review strongly recommended a fundamental change.

The Government responded in January this year with a statement promising changes that would “lead to a reduction in the number of those detained, and the duration of detention before removal”. He added that the Government would also publish their plans for the “future shape and size of the detention estate.”

Almost one year on and not only are people being detained longer since this announcement, but the impact of that is that despite fewer people entering detention, the number of people detained at any one time is actually higher than it was.  On December 31 2015, 2,607 people were being detained. By the end of September 2016, this had jumped to just below 3,000.

Read this excellent blog post for #Unlocked16 by the Refugee Council’s Jon Featonby, which unpacks the Government’s failure to act on its word.

As Jon Featonby writes, in this excellent piece for #Unlocked16, “what reforms that have been introduced have been flawed: the new ‘Adults at Risk’ policy uses a definition of torture so narrow it excludes acts perpetrated by groups such as Boko Haram and Islamic State; the Government introduced a new time limit on the detention of pregnant women but then refused to issue information about how many pregnant women were still being detained; and the provision in the Immigration Act 2016 that would provide automatic bail hearings after four months of being detained is yet to be enacted.

An increase in the number of people in detention; no reduction in the length of people are being detained for; no plan for the future of the detention estate. That, so far, is the outcome of the Government’s response to Shaw’s review.”


Tell the government they can’t shirk on promises they made to overhaul the UK’s detention system

Contact your MP and ask them to demand the Home Secretary take urgent steps to follow through on their commitments to reduce the number of people detained and the length of time they are detained for.

You can:

  • write to your MP.  You can find out who your MP is here.  You can use your own words, or you may find the suggested text here helpful.
  • make an appointment to meet your MP at their surgery and ask him/her to take action (if you feel shy about this or need help, you can tweet at @DetentionForum who will do thier best to support you)
  • you can also tweet your MP with your request. Find out if your MP is on Twitter here.