I was detained from August 2010 until the beginning of November 2012 and have only just been granted bail. I’m now staying at a designated address far away from my family in London; I have a curfew and other restrictions that make travel to see them impossible. I thought the end of detention would mean the beginning of freedom, but I was wrong.
My family moved from Guadeloupe when I was really young. I grew up in East London and never dreamt that I’d find myself in this position here and now. I got myself in a bit of trouble over the years and was serving a sentence in prison before they moved me to Dover IRC. From there, I was passed from place to place: Dover, to Gatwick, to Colnbrook, to Harmondsworth, to Morton Hall, and finally to Middlesborough.
There’s different rules at every place depending who’s running it, and you never quite know what’s going on. All you know is that you’re a small fish and you have no control over your life. That’s left to UKBA. You also know that if you’ve got money then you’ll win something out of it; I mean, you can get by more easily. There’s corruption and uncertainty that you just have to deal with.
I managed to keep contact with my family over my 26 months in detention, but moving has made that really difficult, especially now I’m miles away from where they live. No one is going to stop me seeing my family though; some other peoples’ families give up, but mine haven’t. I see my kids and my brothers, but I think they’re a bit scared. They see me in detention and realise that it can happen to anyone.
Detention is a complete waste of money, but if people don’t want you then the government find a way to get rid of you. The authorities can’t even decide on my nationality. I’m “French” when it suits them and not when it doesn’t. Why waste all this money and create this animosity? It’s sad. I’ve been living in this country for practically my whole life and suddenly I found myself in detention facing deportation to a country that I don’t even know. I’ve made mistakes in the past but this is home to me. How can I be sent somewhere I don’t know, for reasons I don’t understand?
I’m trying to better myself; I did a Plumbing NVQ in prison and I want to go somewhere with that. The next step for me is to do an apprenticeship but I can’t because of the bail conditions. I can be a useful member of society, but instead I’m in No Man’s Land under surveillance.