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Home Office approach to immigration detention "carless and cavalier"

22 March 2019 Written by Paul John & Co Solicitors Category: Immigration Services

A parliamentary committee has published a scathing report into the actions of the Home Office concerning immigration detention, finding that policy and guidance are ‘too often not being followed’.

The Home Affairs Select Committee released their report into the approach of the Home Office to immigration detention this month, finding “serious failings” in almost every area of the process.

Speaking harshly of the government’s actions, the Committee said that, despite the necessity of detention in circumstances where no other options are available, lengthy detention is “unnecessary, inhumane, and causes harm”.

The report was sparked by reports of verbal and physical abuse of detainees by certain staff at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre, and found that these were not isolated incidents.

As well as occasions of abuse of detainees, the report found that there were systematic inadequacies, including a lack of judicial oversight, with decisions to detain individuals being taken by lay people, rather than a judge or court. Without a requirement in UK law for these decisions to be subject to judicial oversight within a certain reproof after the detention order is made, it is made difficult for detention to be effectively challenged.

Responding to the report, Sonya Sceats, the Chief Executive of organisation Freedom from Torture, said:

“We should all be shamed by the inhumane and almost impossible battle survivors in the UK face in an asylum system that sets them up to fail.”

The report recommended several measures to improve the immigration detention system, including:

  • Stronger judicial oversight by subjecting the initial detention decision to review by a Judge within 72 hours.
  • Requiring caseworkers involved in the decision to detain an individual in all cases to meet that individual at least once.
  • Introducing a thorough, face-to-face pre-detention screening process to facilitate the disclosure of vulnerability.
  • Bringing an end to indefinite immigration detention and implementing a maximum 28-day time limit.
  • Ensuring all detention centres have robust and effective whistleblowing procedures which staff and detainees can use with complete confidence, knowing they will be fully protected.

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