United Kingdom

23,970

Immigration detainees

2020

63

Detained children

2018

54,072

New asylum applications

2019

126,720

Refugees

2018

9,552,110

International migrants

2019

Overview

The UK’s immigration detention system, one of the largest and most heavily scrutinized in Europe, has been the target of numerous lawsuits, investigations, and public demonstrations. While a recent Home Office-commissioned report called for reducing “boldly and without delay” the detention of certain groups of non-citizens, the new Immigration Act 2016 fails to include many sought after reforms. Some 30,000 people—including asylum seekers, pregnant women, and children—are detained every year in the country’s privatised “immigration removal centres.”

Types of facilities used for migration-related detention
Administrative Ad Hoc Criminal Unknown

01 November 2020

The Walls Outside Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre, Taken on 8 August 2015, (EYE DJ,
The Walls Outside Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre, Taken on 8 August 2015, (EYE DJ, "Immigration Detention and the Politics of COVID-19," Red Pepper, 2 June 2020, https://www.redpepper.org.uk/immigration-detention-and-the-politics-of-covid-19/)

So far in 2020, more than 7,400 people have arrived in the UK via small boats, nearly four times as many as in 2019. Seven migrants have died trying to cross the Channel this year, three more than last year. Part of this increase may be due to COVID-19 restrictions and the suspension of resettlement schemes such as in the UK, which is supposed to resettle about 5,000 refugees a year. UNHCR’s UK representative said: “UNHCR hopes that resettlement to the UK will restart very soon, once reception capacity is concerned and any remaining logistical issues related to COVID-19 are overcome by the authorities. The pandemic has presented new, acute hardships and uncertainties for refugees.” The statement comes after two young children and their parents died while trying to cross the Channel during the week of 26 October 2020.

Following the unsuccessful legal challenge presented by Detention Action in March (see 5 April and 11 May UK updates on this platform), which aimed to force the Home Office to release all immigration detainees, a number of claims for judicial review have been instigated on behalf of individuals detained at immigration removal centres. In one case, R (on the application of Zalys) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] 4 WLUK 86, the claimant argued that in addition to waiting for the outcome of his appeal against a deportation order requiring his removal, travel restrictions resulting from the pandemic rendered it impossible for the Home Office to remove him to Lithuania within a reasonable timeframe. The claimant also argued that his continued detention in a “congregate setting” was directly contrary to government guidance, particularly so in light of his serious underlying medical conditions. In consequence, the claimant was granted permission to apply for judicial review, with the judge stating that the claimant had established a strong prima facie case for his release. The claimant was then placed on immigration bail by the Home Office.

On 30 October, the Guardian reported that the government had increased cash support payments for asylum seekers by 3 pence (£0.03) per week, increasing the current weekly rate of £39.60 to £39.63 following a review by the Home Office. This now equates to around £5.66 a day. Several charities, who have been pushing the UK government to increase support rates, have criticised the measure. The group Asylum Matters said that “this review was an opportunity for the Home Office to put this right, and ensure people seeking refugee status in the UK are safe and supported, during the pandemic and beyond. Instead, they’ve blown it -- 3p a week is an insult, not an increase.” In the UK, people seeking asylum are barred from working while they wait for a decision on their claims. Yet, immigration figures released in August revealed that more than 70 percent of people seeking asylum in the UK wait more than six months for a decision on their claim.

COVID-19 has put the country’s prison system and prisoners under considerable pressure and psychological stress. On 4 October 2020, campaigners at the Prison Reform Trust (PRT) found that coronavirus measures in English and Welsh prisons have delayed the release of potentially thousands of prisoners by blocking chances for inmates to take part in rehabilitation activities, required to progress in their sentences. In addition, PRT said that the uncertainty caused by the virus is leading to increasing despair and hopelessness as well as putting a significant strain on prisoners’ mental health and wellbeing.


23 October 2020

Tug Haven Facility Entrance in Dover, Kent, Where Migrants are Being Processed, (HMIP/PA,
Tug Haven Facility Entrance in Dover, Kent, Where Migrants are Being Processed, (HMIP/PA, "Kent Inspectors Find Wet and Cold Migrants Held in Crampled Containers," The Guardian, 23 October 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/oct/23/kent-inspectors-find-wet-and-cold-migrants-held-in-cramped-containers)

So far this year, more than 7,400 asylum seekers and migrants have arrived in the UK by small boat--nearly four times as many as in 2019. A new report has revealed that new arrivals are processed at a makeshift facility in Tug Haven, where hundreds are “forced to spend hours in cramped containers on a “rubble-strewn building site,” without appropriate provision of dry clothes and other basic supplies. As part of the “processing,” arrivals are screened for urgent medical conditions and symptoms of COVID-19--those who display symptoms are placed in a designated van. Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector for Prisons, said: “While the number of arrivals had been far higher in 2020 than in previous years, the reception arrangements at Tug Haven were not fit for even small numbers.”

In Scotland, a COVID-19 outbreak has been reported in Dungavel House Immigration Removal Centre. Although the UK’s Home Office confirmed the detection of cases amongst immigration detainees in the facility, it withheld revealing the number of persons currently in the facility, and the number of confirmed cases. In May, however, the BBC reported that the IRC was “thought to be nearly empty” (see 11 May update on this platform). In a letter to the Home Secretary, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Immigration Detention requested that the Home Office reveal figures clarifying the number of detainees that have tested positive in the facility in the past 30 days.

The centre--which currently has capacity for 125 persons (after being reduced from 249 at the end of 2019)--is run by the for-profit GEO Group. Campaigners, who have long called for the facility’s closure, have urged authorities to release the remaining detainees, citing their concerns that persons in the facility “already suffer from mental health and medical conditions.” (In 2019, figures obtained by BBC Scotland revealed that 40 percent of detainees in the facility were classed as “vulnerable.” The BBC also reported that children continued to be detained in the facility, despite the UK government claiming in 2010 that it would end the detention of children.) As well as calling for their release, lawyers and campaigners have demanded that all persons released be tested for the virus and placed in private accommodation.

According to the APPG, one case has also been detected in Brook House IRC. Despite COVID-19 cases rising rapidly across the UK, the APPG reports that the number of persons in detention has risen in recent months (having been reduced during the first wave of the pandemic), and transfers of detainees around the detention estate have continued, despite the fact that such movements may spread the virus across facilities.

Although transfers have reportedly continued, UK government guidance (last updated in July) specifies that visits to immigration detention centres across the country remain barred--although some visits may be accommodated in exceptional circumstances. This also applies to visits by legal representatives: “Visits by legal representatives can continue but only in exceptional circumstances and if no other means of contact (Skype, phone, email) can be used instead.” However, as the Law Society noted in its latest report--”Law Under Lockdown”--solicitors have reported that the availability of technology within IRCs can be limited: “it is vital that adequate communication with lawyers is maintained from IRCs to ensure that individuals are represented effectively in these.”

According to the UK’s Inspectorate of Prisons for England and Wales, which released its 2019-2020 annual report this week, 23,075 people entered detention across the UK in the 12 months to 31 March 2020--5 percent fewer than the previous year. In surveys assessing detainees’ sense of safety, the Inspector found that a third of detainees at Brook House and Morton Hall IRCs, and almost half at Colnbrook IRC, said that they felt “unsafe.” Several factors accounted for this feeling, such as fear of removal, concern about the progress of their immigration cases, the behaviour of other detainees “frustrated at their confinement,” and lengthy indefinite detention.


01 October 2020

Border Force Officials Recover Dinghy After Migrants Landed on Deal Beach, (Luke Dray, Getty Images,
Border Force Officials Recover Dinghy After Migrants Landed on Deal Beach, (Luke Dray, Getty Images, "UK Tested Channel 'Blockade' to Deter Migrants, Leak Reveals," The Guardian, 1 October 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/oct/01/uk-tested-channel-blockade-to-deter-migrants-leak-reveals)

The Covid-19 pandemic appears to be fundamentally altering how migrants and asylum seekers arrive in the UK ... and how the UK responds to these arrivals. So far this year, some 7,000 people have arrived irregularly on small boats that have made the perilous crossing of the Channel--more than three times the number during all of 2019--which appears to be driven at least in part by the decreasing volume of lorry traffic in and out of the country (see the 27 August 2020 update). Last month, UK authorities announced plans to repurpose Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre to boost its capacity to accommodate people intercepted while attempting this crossing (see 27 August United Kingdom update on this platform).

While these developments have drawn widespread attention, the Home Office has also been seeking to redesign the functioning of the country’s asylum system. On 1 October 2020, the Guardian reported on leaked documents revealing that trials have taken place to test a blockade in the Channel, similar to Australia’s controversial “turn back the boats” tactic. The document states that “trails are currently underway to test a ‘blockade’ tactic in the Channel on the median line between French and UK waters, akin to the Australian ‘turn back’ tactic, whereby migrant boats would be physically prevented (most likely by one or more UK RHIBs, rigid hull inflatable boats, from entering UK waters.” The UK government said it would not comment on the leaked measures but said that they would soon bring forward ‘a package of measures’ to address illegal migration once the UK has left the EU.”

On 30 September, the Guardian reported that the UK government was considering the option of sending asylum seekers to Moldova, Morocco, or Papua New Guinea. Documents seen by the Guardian detailed proposals to hold refugees in offshore detention centres. However, the documents suggest that officials in the Foreign Office have been resisting the government's proposals to process asylum applications in detention facilities overseas. The documents also reportedly contained suggestions on the construction of detention centres on the islands of Ascension and St. Helena. The documents, marked “official” and “sensitive” summarise advice from Foreign Office officials, which had been asked to “offer advice on possible options for negotiating an offshore asylum processing facility similar to the Australian model in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.” The Australian system has attracted criticism from human rights groups, the United Nations, and even the UK government. According to the documents seen by the Guardian, British ministers have privately raised concerns with Australia over the abuse of detainees in its offshore detention facilities.”

On 30 September, Home Secretary Priti Patel asked officials to consider processing asylum seekers at Ascension and St. Helena. Home Office sources were quick to distance themselves from the proposals and the UK government has also played down both islands as destinations for asylum processing centres. However, the documents seen by the Guardian seem to suggest that the government had been working on “detailed plans” that include cost estimates of building camps, as well as other proposals to build facilities in Moldova, Morocco, and Papua New Guinea.

The UK’s proposal seems to go further than Australia’s system, which is based on migrants being intercepted while outside national waters. The UK documents state that its proposal would involve relocating asylum seekers who “have arrived in the UK and are firmly within the jurisdiction of the UK for the purposes of the ECHR and Human Rights Act 1998.” In addition, the documents suggest that the idea of third country destinations for UK asylum processing centres came directly from Downing Street and the request for advice reportedly came from “the PM.” The Times also reported that the government was giving serious consideration to the idea of creating floating asylum centres in disused ferries moored off the UK coast.

Nonetheless, the Foreign Office advice contained in the documents appears to be highly dismissive of the ideas emanating from Downing Street, citing legal, practical, and diplomatic obstacles to processing asylum seekers overseas. The documents highlight that:

Plans to process asylum seekers in Ascension or St Helena would be “extremely expensive and logistically complicated.” The estimated cost is £220m per 1,000 beds and running costs of £200m. One document adds that: “in relation to St Helena, we will need to consider if we are willing to impose the plan if the local government object.”

Legal, diplomatic, and practical obstacles to the plan include the existence of “sensitive military installations” on the island of Ascension. Military issues mean that the “US government would need to be persuaded at the highest levels, and even then success cannot be guaranteed.”

It is “highly unlikely” that any north African state would agree to hosting asylum seekers relocated to the UK.

Seeming to dismiss the idea of sending asylum seekers to Moldova, Foreign Office officials pointed out that there is a conflict over Transnistria as well as endemic corruption. In consequence, “if an asylum centre depended on reliable, transparent, credible cooperation from the host country justice system, we would not be able to rely on this.”

Foreign Office officials also warned of “significant political and logistical obstacles” to sending asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea including that the country is more than 8,500 miles away, has a fragile public health system and is “one of the bottom few countries in the world in terms of medical personnel per head of population.”

A Whitehall source familiar with the government plans stated that the plans were part of a push by the government to “radically beef-up the hostile environment” in 2021 following the end of the Brexit transition. The source said that the government is seeking to adopt policies that would “discourage” and “deter” migrants from entering the UK irregularly, similarly to Theresa May’s “hostile environment”, which is no longer being used in government.

The documents seen by the Guardian contain legal advice from the Home Office to Downing Street. The advice states that the policy would require legislative changes, including “disapplying sections 77 and 78 of the Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 so that asylum seekers can be removed from the UK while their claim or appeal is pending.”

On 30 September, when asked about the UK’s plans to ship asylum seekers to the south Atlantic for processing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesperson confirmed that the UK was considering Australian-style offshore processing centres. He stated that the UK had a “long and proud history” of accepting asylum seekers but needed to act, particularly due to many migrants making unofficial crossings from France in small boats.

The UK government plans have been strongly criticised by experts familiar with Australia’s immigration policies stating that the plan risks creating a fresh “human rights disaster.” Elaine Pearson, Australia director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), said that the Australian experience of offshore processing has been “a human rights disaster” that was still causing suffering.

Despite the criticism, the top civil servant at the Home Office said that “all options are on the table” for the migration system, responding to reports that officials were asked to consider proposals to hold refugees in offshore detention centres. Matthew Rycroft, the department’s permanent secretary, said that the Cabinet Office would lead an inquiry into the leak of documents. Rycroft stated that the aim of the exercise was to improve “our system of asylum so we can continue to provide the protection to those who need it in accordance with our international obligations and to make sure the system is not being abused.”


27 August 2020

A Group of Migrants Are Escorted by Border Force Officers Following a Number of Small Boat Incidents in the Channel, Dover, 13 August 2020, (Steve Parsons,
A Group of Migrants Are Escorted by Border Force Officers Following a Number of Small Boat Incidents in the Channel, Dover, 13 August 2020, (Steve Parsons, "Migrants Cross English Channel to UK for 10th Day in a Row," SC Now, 13 August 2020, https://scnow.com/news/world/migrants-cross-english-channel-to-uk-for-10th-day-in-a-row/article_b1fdf98d-0ace-573d-bfa2-c4625bc3e6ee.html)

During the first two weeks of August, more than 650 migrants and asylum seekers crossed the Channel from France. With fewer lorries able to cross during the pandemic, migrants and asylum seekers have increasingly sought to attempt the journey in dinghies, often with the aid of smugglers. The country’s Home Office has been advancing alarmist narratives surrounding the arrivals—even after the drowning of a Sudanese refugee during an attempt to cross the waterway—presenting it as a “crisis” which will only be solved by the UK’s exit from the EU. As well as tasking the Royal Air Force to patrol the route using a surveillance plane in order to “make the crossing unviable for small boats” (AP 13 August), authorities have also announced plans to repurpose Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre (formely restricted to detaining women) to hold people interdicted while attempting to cross. Some observers, however, have argued that the government’s recent focus on migration is an attempt to divert attention away from its handling of the pandemic.

On 29 July, the Home Office announced that individuals whose departure orders were set to expire before 31 August would be allowed to temporarily remain, work, and study in the country. However, as of this update, it was unclear what would happen once the new deadline passed. The Home Office indicated that “exceptional indemnity” would apply to individuals who could not leave the country in time but intended to do so.

On 7 July 2020, the Home Office released the second version of the “Guidance for Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs), Residential Short-Term Holding Facilities (RSTHFs) and escorts during the Covid-19 pandemic.” The guidance is intended to inform Home Office staff operating in IRCs and RSTHFs about Covid-19 measures in places of detention and covers the strategy for shielding those particularly vulnerable to the virus. Among the measures: detainees, staff, and visitors should frequently wash their hands using soap for at least 20 seconds; IRC suppliers should produce specific guidance for individuals to explain how to reduce the risks of a Covid-19 outbreak; detainees should be provided on request with appropriate disinfectant cleaning materials to clean their bedrooms; and detainees should be accommodated in single occupancy rooms with en-suite toilets.

According to a blog post by Gherson, a UK-based law firm specialising in immigration law, reported that ongoing pleas to the Home Office to release all immigration detainees have been unsuccessful. A legal challenge by Detention Action, which aimed to force the Home Office to do that, was rejected by the High Court in late March (see 11 May United Kingdom update on this platform). Nevertheless, the number of people detained for immigration-related reasons more than halved between January and April, from over 1,500 to around 700 (see 5 April United Kingdom update on this platform). Gherson indicated that the most common reason behind the reduction in the number of people in immigration detention appears to be the significant increase in grants of immigration bail applications since lockdown. The legal charity, Bail for Immigration Detainees, reported a 95 percent success rate in their applications for bail since 23 March.

Gherson adds that the arguments made by the Home Office to justify detention are less applicable in the wake of Covid-19 as long-term detention is severely restricted where there is no realistic prospect of removal. Unlike other European countries, the UK has not suspended removals in response to the pandemic and Home Office has even utilised indirect flights to countries of origin in an attempt to continue removals. Also, arguing that an individual is unlikely to comply with immigration bail conditions has also become more difficult to justify, according to Gherson.

In related developments, prison restrictions in place in the UK since March have allowed youth detention facilities to keep children in their cells for up to 22 hours a day (see 15 July United Kingdom update on this platform). On 21 July, the Ministry of Justice announced that this measure could remain in place for two years. The Howard League for Penal Reform, a UK based charity, has been receiving reports from children in prisons about the severe impact of solitary confinement on their mental health.

In mid-June, UK’s Labour MP released data showing that amongst the prisoners released since the beginning of the pandemic, approximately a 1,000 were homeless or without housing. After a drop of 5.4 percent in the prisoner population between March and June, numbers started rising again following the reopening of courts. On 31 July, Prison Insider reported that UK’s authorities were working on a plan to implement telemedicine in all the country’s prison system. This would allow prisoners to use a 4G tablet for medical consultations.


15 July 2020

Immigration Removal Centres Sign, (E. Hayward,
Immigration Removal Centres Sign, (E. Hayward, "Calls for Release of Detainees in UK Immigration Centres," 16 June 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/06/calls-release-detainees-uk-immigration-centres-200616124747882.html)

Although the UK did not issue a moratorium on new detention orders at the height of the pandemic, the Home Office ceased issuing new detention orders for people who, under normal circumstances, would face removal to one of 49 specified countries. This was confirmed in a GDP Covid-19 survey completed by a UK government official who asked to remain anonymous but whose identity was verified by the GDP.

According to the source, the 49 countries are: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Austria, Bulgaria,Cameroon, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, India, Iraq, Ireland, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Latvia, Lichenstein, Lebanon, Libya, Luxembourg, Mauritania, Morocco, Netherlands,Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Zimbabwe.

While large numbers of immigration detainees were released from UK detention facilities at the height of the pandemic (see 11 May update), according to Home Office statistics some 295 people were placed in detention (Immigration removal centres (IRCs), Short-term holding facilities (STHF), or Pre-departure accommodation (PDAs)) between 23 March and the end of April. This figure does not include people brought into detention centres from UK prisons, so the exact number of new arrivals is likely higher. In spite of this, the total number of people in detention at the start of May was far lower than in previous months: 313 compared to 555 at the end of March 2020, and 1,278 at the end of December 2019. However, numbers are higher when one considers non-nationals detained in prisons: according to Avid Detention, approximately 700 persons remained in detention at the end of May.

Like in many European countries, including notably Spain, there is an emerging debate in the UK over future measures for those who were released from detention during the crisis. Some of those released have been staying in Home Office accommodation or private housing, and have been required to stay in regular contact with government authorities.

The UK is the only country in Europe where immigration detainees can be held indefinitely, a fact that has been the subject of considerable scrutiny and criticism in recent years. In June, as Parliament prepared to debate the new Immigration and Social Security Co-Ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill -- the purpose of which is to end free movement for people from the EU due to Brexit -- the Conservative MP David Davis tabled an amendment that would cap the detention time limit at 28 days. The proposal coincided with the release of a highly critical report from the Jesuit Refugee Service investigating the impact of indefinite detention on migrants and asylum seekers prior to the pandemic. The report found that of those interviewed, many had found the prison-like conditions and lack of a release date deeply traumatic, with many reporting suicidal feelings and psychological damage. One former detainee said, “The most awful thing was an uncertainty: Not knowing whether I will be released and what they’re going to do to me.” Despite the amendment receiving cross-party support, the proposal was rejected.

Although the Ministry of Justice has published daily briefings on the number of persons teste and the number of confirmed cases across the entire prison system, the Home Office has not published information on testing in immigration detention settings. As such, exact figures detailing those with symptoms and confirmed cases have remained unavailable. Avid Detention stated on 28 May, “It is not clear why this same level of transparency is not being applied to detention, given the heightened risk both prisons and detention environments pose.”

In the United Kingdom, due to Covid-19, vulnerable children in prisons are left waiting for months for their postponed trials. In some cases, trials are postponed indefinitely. In addition, according to CNN, Covid-19 prison restrictions mean that children are put in solitary confinement for up to 23.5 hours a day and provided with little education, exercise, and cannot receive any visits.

The latest figures, from May 2020, show that 614 children are in custody in England and Wales. These children have been detained in what UN guidelines define as “solitary confinement”: 22 hours a day without any meaningful human contact. These guidelines stipulate that this level of confinement should never be used on children. The prison service of England and Wales claim to want to relax solitary confinement measures in the coming weeks stating it knows the restrictions are difficult for children, but they claim these measures are based on expert advice and that they help save lives.

Labour MP David Lammy argued that while Covid-19 is a challenge to the system, it is not a call for democratic countries to abandon norms that have been fought hard for. Lammy’s review of English and Welsh prisons found that black and other minority children are overly represented in the prison system, making up over half (52 percent) of children in prison, while minorities are only 14 percent of the UK’s population.


11 May 2020

Protesters Outside Yarl's Wood Detention Centre Calling for its Immediate Closure in June 2015, (
Protesters Outside Yarl's Wood Detention Centre Calling for its Immediate Closure in June 2015, ("Coronavirus: UK Detention Centres 'Emptied in Weeks'," BBC, 7 May 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-52560093)

Despite an unsuccessful legal challenge from Detention Action seeking the release of all immigration detainees at the High Court in March (see 5 April update), more than 700 detainees were released between 16 March and 21 April as the government responded to concerns about the spread of Covid-19 within immigration detention facilities. The organisation has begun a petition requesting the release of all remaining immigration detainees. Official figures recorded 1,225 people in detention centres on 1 January and 368 at the latest count, which amounts to a reduction of almost three-quarters. According to detainees, there are 13 women left at the Yarl’s Wood immigration removal in Bedfordshire and the Tinsley House and Dungavel centres are thought to be nearly empty. Also, about 50 people are believed to have been deported during the crisis.

Detention Action told the BBC (7 May) that the litigation had “forced major, rapid concessions from the government, including the release of 350 detainees in one week and a halt on new detentions of people facing removal to 49 countries.”

Another NGO, Movement for Justice, commented: "Now we also know the centres can be easily emptied and people can manage their cases in the community."

However, the Home Office has pushed back on this idea, arguing that “the vast majority of those in detention, at this time, are foreign national offenders. It is only right that we continue to protect the public from dangerous criminals.”

Immigration detainees have reportedly been unable to access coronavirus tests despite living in shared accommodation centres where there have been confirmed cases of the virus. The managing Director of Mitie, a private firm contracted by the Home Office to run Harmondsworth and Colnbrook removal centres, told the Home Affairs Select Committee on 7 May 2020 that while all staff in the centre were able to access tests, there was at present “no particular policy” around testing for detainees. He added that Mitie had “recently written to the Home Office asking that testing becomes available as a matter of routine for detainees.”

In English and Welsh prisons, it is estimated that around 1,800 prisoners could be infected with Covid-19, in addition to the 304 already confirmed cases, according to Public Health England (PHE). PHE also added that to avoid a further spread of the disease, protective measures within penitentiaries would have to be maintained until the end of the financial year (April 2021). With these measures in place, PHE has estimated that there will be around 2,800 infections and 100 deaths.


22 April 2020

The UK’s Home Affairs Select Committee has called on the government to investigate concerns that cramped conditions in asylum accommodation are putting people at risk of the virus. In particular, the Committee noted its concerns regarding reports of poor conditions in an asylum centre in West Yorkshire that reportedly breached measures to control the spread of Covid-19. The Committee has also called for information on what steps the Home Office is taking to ensure that private contractors manage accommodation to ensure its safety. On 21 April, the Select Committee heard evidence from refugee NGOs and immigration lawyers as part of its inquiry into Home Office preparedness for the crisis. During the session, the committee sought to learn more about the issues facing migrants and asylum seekers and to assess whether changes are required to the provision of support to those in the asylum system, and to examine the government’s policy relating to immigration detention and the adequacy of protective measures recently implemented in detention centres.


12 April 2020

As news emerged of a second confirmed case of Covid-19 within a UK Removal Centre, Alison Thewliss - chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Immigration Detention - urged the UK government to release immigration detainees. In a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel, Thewliss wrote, “The confirmation of a new coronavirus case at Brook House demonstrates the danger detainees are continuing to be put in. Now more than ever, protection must be prioritised over immigration targets. IRCs are high risk for clusters of Covid-19 with staff providing a conduit for infection to and from the community. The continued spread of the virus clearly highlights the very real risk of uncontrolled outbreaks at IRCs.”


05 April 2020

Despite a confirmed case of Covid-19 within the facility, women continue to be placed in Yarl's Wood Removal Centre (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/coronavirus-yarls-wood-immigration-detention-removal-centre-home-office-a9417056.html)
Despite a confirmed case of Covid-19 within the facility, women continue to be placed in Yarl's Wood Removal Centre (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/coronavirus-yarls-wood-immigration-detention-removal-centre-home-office-a9417056.html)

Human rights organisations and legal bodies have repeatedly called on the UK Home office to release immigration detainees. While some 300 individuals were released from removal centres by the end of March, a legal filing seeking the release of all immigration detainees was blocked by the High Court.

When the crisis first began to escalate in the UK, ten human rights and legal organisations wrote a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel demanding the release of all people from immigration detention, stating that “there is a very real risk of an uncontrolled outbreak of Covid-19 in immigration detention.” The Shadow Immigration Minister, Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP, stated that she “fully supports calls from migration campaigners and lawyers to release immigration detainees on public health grounds amid the Coronavirus outbreak.” On 19 March, Detention Action issued a legal challenge, which sought to ensure that the government reviewed and released persons held under immigration powers, and to immediately halt all future deportations.

On 21 March, some 300 detainees were released from several immigration detention centres, raising hopes that more of the detainee population would soon be freed. These hopes, however, were quickly dashed when Detention Action’s legal challenge was rejected by the High Court. During the case, the Home Office highlighted that numbers in immigration detention had fallen substantially from 1,200 in January to 736 in March. At the same time, the BBC reported that women continued to be placed in detention at Yarl’s Wood, despite one confirmed case of Covid-19 in the facility, and in a leaked letter from G4S, plans to isolate individual vulnerable detainees for up to three months were revealed.

Thus, on 27 March, the call to release detainees was again repeated in an open-letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. More than 100 charities, grassroots organisations, academics, and legal professionals called on the government to reduce the number of persons in prisons, young offender institutions, secure training centres, and immigration detention facilities.

The Ministry of Justice announced on 4 April 2020 that low-risk prisoners who are within two months of their release date are to be temporarily permitted to leave on licence. This announcement coincided with news that 88 prisoners and 15 staff had tested positive (2 staff died at Pentonville Prison). No mention of immigration detainees, however, was made - prompting rights groups to once again urge the government to release immigration detainees. As Medical Justice UK stated, “Now release immigration detainees. None are serving a criminal sentence and few can be deported during the global lockdown, making their indefinite detention in such harmful conditions incomprehensible, indefensible and just plain cruel.”


Last updated: October 2016

United Kingdom Immigration Detention Profile

 

INTRODUCTION

The United Kingdom has one of the largest immigration detention systems in Europe, confining up to 4,000 people—including children—in detention every day under Immigration Act powers.[1] As of October 2016, the country’s immigration detention estate included nine “immigration removal centres” (IRCs) and a small number of residential immigration detention holding facilities.[2] In addition, several hundred people are kept in prisons under Immigration Act powers awaiting deportation after having finished their criminal sentences.[3]

According to Home Office statistics, during the year ending in March 2016, 32,163 persons entered immigration detention, of whom 32,610 left detention and 2,925 remained in detention (these numbers do not include the 363 people held in the prison system under Immigration Act powers).[4] There has been a marked increase in detention numbers over the years. In the year ending March 2012, 27,594 entered detention.[5] The increasing numbers largely parallel increases in the UK’s detention capacity, which has risen sharply since 1993, when total capacity was only 250.[6]

As immigration detention has grown in the UK it has come under increasing public scrutiny, a point that was underscored with the January 2016 release of an independent review of the welfare of vulnerable people in detention commissioned by the Home Office. Commonly referred to as the “Shaw Review,” the landmark report called for reducing “boldly and without delay” the detention of certain populations, an overhaul of the management of immigration casework, as well as a host of additional reforms.[7]

Among the vulnerable groups highlighted in the review were pregnant women and children. It called for banning the detention of pregnant women. It also contended that the Cedars family “pre-departure” facility was too expensive for the purposes it served, although the report did not call for ending the detention of children. Shortly after the release of the report, the Home Office announced a number of reforms, but it pushed back against a complete ban on the detention of pregnant women.[8] It also later announced that it would replace the Cedars facility with a “discrete unit” within the Tinsley House IRC near Gatwick Airport.[9]

Other issues that have attracted criticism include: the role of private security companies in managing detention centres, the increasing instances of detention of ex-criminal foreigners after they have served their criminal sentences, and the lack of limits on the length of detention. Many of these issues were highlighted in an important 2015 report titled the “Report of the Inquiry into the Use of Immigration Detention in the United Kingdom,” part of a joint inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees & the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration (APPGs). Among its key conclusions were that the country should cease indefinite detention and impose a time limit of 28 days.[10] 

Observers frequently point to the prison-like features of immigration detention in the UK, including both architectural similarities and “conceptual parities,” which make it arguably a form of punishment even if officially it is not recognized as such. As one scholar writes, “Staff and detainees regularly refer to IRCs as prisons. For detainees, confinement is punitive, even though it is an administrative measure.”[11]

The UK has also received criticism from UN monitoring bodies that have called for a statutory limit on the duration of immigration detention, for detention to be a measure of last resort, and for reforms to the now-defunct Detained Fast Track system.[12] The Detained Fast Track System was initially implemented in 2005 with the aim of accelerating asylum applications and appeals.[13] The system received widespread criticism because of its application of accelerated procedures, failure to identify vulnerable asylum seekers, and an asylum refusal rate of 99 per cent. After successful legal challenges by Detention Action and other groups, the Minister for Immigration announced the suspension of the system in July 2015.[14]

The growing notoriety of these detention policies has helped spur the adoption of important changes to detention procedures, which are provided in the Immigration Act 2016, and “detention service orders” that provide guidance to Home Office staff. Two key changes are the provision of automatic bail hearings after four months in detention and limiting the detention of pregnant women to 72 hours, though subject to extension. 

Many observers, however, have expressed disappointment that the new Immigration Act does not go far enough in its reforms. In a statement released shortly after the Immigration Act received “royal assent” in May 2016, the APPGs said: “We are disappointed that the Government continues in its opposition to an overall time limit, despite the growing evidence that indefinite detention has an extremely negative mental health impact, costs more to the public purse and is less effective than alternative immigration enforcement models. We are also disappointed that the Government has not accepted our case for an absolute exclusion of pregnant women from detention.”[15]

 

LAWS, POLICIES, PRACTICES

Key norms. An expert with the UK Prison Inspectorate writes that detention “is a relatively recent part of the state’s response to unwanted migration.”[16] A series of immigration-related laws, beginning with the 1905 Aliens Act, have provided detention measures. However, it is only since the 1962 Aliens Act “that attempts to limit immigration have become more serious and systematic, with the first immigration detention centres opening in the 1970s.”[17]

The 1971 Immigration Act first introduced administrative detention for those denied entry to the country.[18] The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 includes a long section on detention and removal. More recently, in May 2016, the Immigration Act 2016 became law. It provides a number of previously non-existent safeguards, including automatic bail hearings and limits to the length of detention of pregnant women.

The 1984 judgment in Hardial Singh is considered to be a critical legal case concerning immigration detention. The Shaw Review states, “In broad terms, this says that the power to detain is to be strictly and narrowly understood: that is, if detention is not for a statutory purpose it is unlawful, and the power is limited to such period that is reasonably necessary for that purpose to be achieved.”[19]

Immigration Act 2016. In May 2015, a new Immigration Bill implementing various policies of the Conservative Party and proposals from UK Prime Minister David Cameron was announced. Building on the Immigration Act 2014, the 2015 bill aimed to restrict access to services for undocumented migrants. In addition, support for migrants whose asylum claims have been unconfirmed would be restricted to only those who are “poor and face a genuine problem in leaving the UK.”[20] On the other hand, the bill proposed some important reforms in response to criticism of the country’s detention system. In May 2016, a text of the Immigration Bill that had been agreed on by both Houses of Parliament received “royal assent” and became law, the Immigration Act 2016.[21]

Numerous critics have argued that the law victimizes immigrants and reveals a lack of official understanding regarding the undocumented migrant population in the UK.[22] The Migrants’ Rights Network has argued that it could lead to “an unprecedented expansion of the powers of immigration officials to detain individuals, to seize property, and to otherwise interfere with everyday activities.”[23]

Removals, detention, and UK Visas and Immigration. The Home Office is the authority with legal custody over immigration detainees, although operations at detention centres are contracted to various governmental and private entities.[24] Previously, the Home Office’s UK Border Agency (UKBA) was primarily responsible for immigration detention. In 2013, UKBA was closed and its responsibilities taken over by two directorates, Immigration Enforcement and UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), both of which are part of the Home Office.[25] UKVI describes itself as being “responsible for making millions of decisions every year about who has the right to visit or stay in the country, with a firm emphasis on national security and a culture of customer satisfaction for people who come here legally.” Immigration Enforcement is “responsible for preventing abuse, tracking immigration offenders and increasing compliance with immigration law. It works with partners such as the police to regulate migration in line with government policy, while supporting economic growth.”

Unauthorized immigrants who are not in detention are given the option to depart the country voluntarily, either independently or with the support of an assisted voluntary return programme (AVR). AVR was overseen by Refugee Action until November 2015, when the Home Office decided to take it over.[26] The decision was criticized by Refugee Action and other organisations because many migrants claim that they do not trust a government-run service.[27]

Detention under Immigration Act powers is administrative and, therefore, should not be punitive.[28] According to the UK Visa and Immigration’s Enforcement Instructions and Guidance, “Detention must be used sparingly, and for the shortest period necessary.”[29] Nevertheless, the United Kingdom is the only European Union member state not to have imposed limits on the length of time a person can spend in immigration detention. However, the statutory power of detention has been somewhat limited through jurisprudence, most significantly in the Hardial Singh decision, which provides that the power to detain should be strictly and narrowly understood. This means that if the detention is not for a statutory purpose then it is unlawful and the power to detain is limited to the period reasonably necessary for the statutory purpose to be achieved.[30] Hardial Singh further provides that, “Where there is no prospect of removing the deportee within a reasonable time, then detention becomes arbitrary and consequently unlawful … and the deportee must be released immediately.”[31]

Since 2009, the High Court has found that long-term detention breaches the principles outlined in the Hardial Singh decision, but the threshold has been set very high and it is nearly impossible for migrants to know when their detention will become unlawful. For example, despite these principles the High Court has held that detention for multiple years can be lawful in certain cases.[32]

Grounds for detention. Citing Article 16 of the Immigration Act 1971, the Home Office states that “detention is most usually appropriate: to effect removal; initially to establish a person's identity or basis of claim; or where there is reason to believe that the person will fail to comply with any conditions attached to the grant of temporary admission or release.”[33] Articles 16 (2) and 30 of the 1971 act also include provisions for detention for failing to respect non-custodial measures.  Article 10 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 provides for detention for unlawful stay and various rules and instructions provide for detention prior to deportation for unauthorised stay and following a criminal conviction.[34]

Criminalisation. The Immigration Act provides a number of offences that are subject to criminal procedures and penalties, including several (under Section 24) that are related specifically to status-related violations. Penalties under Section 24 include a fine of up to £5,000 or a six-month prison term.[35] The Asylum and Immigration Act of 2004 also introduced criminal penalties for non-citizens who do not cooperate with efforts to obtain travel documents necessary for removal procedures.

Discussing the catalogue of offenses in UK immigration law, a briefing paper by the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford states: “The period between 1999 and 2009 witnessed the fastest and largest expansion of the list of immigration crimes since 1905. Since 1999 new legislation has created 84 new immigration offences, more than double the number of offences that had been created since 1905.”[36]

However, recent statistics about the application of criminal measures are sparse, possibly in part because the Office for National Statistics has declined to provide updated versions of its Control of Immigration reports since 2006, which provided statistics on the numbers of “persons proceeded against” for Immigration Act offenses.[37]

The most recent figures reported by the Migration Observatory (in 2013) come from 2011, when 490 people were convicted of immigration offences in magistrate courts and crown courts.[38] According to this report, 261 people were convicted of “assisting unlawful immigration to member state”; 145 for “seeking leave to enter or remain or postponement of revocation by deception”; 84 for “begin unable to produce an immigration document at a leave or asylum interview”; and 69 for unspecified other offenses.

According to the 2006 ONS Control of Immigration report, “Provisional data for January to October 2006 show that 868 persons were proceeded against at magistrates’ courts for offences under the Immigration Acts 1971 to 2004. ... 676 (78 per cent) of the defendants at magistrates’ courts were found guilty of immigration offences by these courts between January and October 2006.”[39]

According to separate statistics provided by the Ministry of Justice, during the period 2004-2008 there were nearly 3,800 convictions for offences under the Immigration Acts (including cases in both the crown courts and the magistrates courts). Of these, only a few hundred involved status-related violations.[40]

In a 2010 update of its online legal guidance, the Crown Prosecution Service stated, “In cases where the offence is trivial and action has or will be taken by the immigration authorities, the public interest may not be served by a prosecution.” It also highlighted the “need to balance questions of delay, remands in custody, and likely sentence against the gravity of the offence and any other compelling public interest consideration that may require a prosecution.”[41]

In 2010, the Ministry of Justice and UKBA introduced a pilot policy on “simple cautions for foreign national offenders” that was aimed at “divert[ing] from prosecution foreign national offenders who commit specified offences relating to their immigration status and agree to be administratively removed from the UK.” According to a policy statement about the pilot project, one of the aims of the policy was to “reduce the burden on the criminal justice system and UKBA from dealing with foreign national offenders who commit specified offences and are liable to be removed from the UK.”[42]

In a 2011 comment on the policy, Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) raised a number of concerns about the “scheme,” which was initially introduced at Heathrow and Stanstead airports and targeted people using false documents. Stated BID: “We agree with the basic sentiment of diverting foreign nationals from prosecution and the prison estate for certain document fraud offences. For those that have no legal basis to remain here and as a result face administrative removal from the UK it appears sensible to remove a period of imprisonment, which comes with a financial cost to the state and a personal cost to the individual. However, this diversion scheme appears to involve a significant risk of bypassing due process.”[43]

Detention of children. The immigration detention of children has undergone reforms in recent years, which have led to significant decreases in the number of child detainees. According to Home Office statistics, 1,119 children were placed in detention in 2009, while in the year ending in March 2016 only 110 children entered detention.[44]

In 2010, the government announced to great fanfare that it would end the detention of children and established a new policy for the treatment of families.[45] Despite the claims about ending the detention of children, the practice has persisted, prompting criticism at both the national and international levels. In 2016, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child called on the UK to “cease the detention of asylum-seeking and migrant children.”[46]

As part of the 2010 reforms, families with an irregular status are dealt with under a separate regime, which includes an Independent Family Returns Panel that advises on removal proceedings for families and children as well as specialized family caseworkers.[47]

Also, in 2011, in an effort to accommodate families without detaining children, the government announced the opening of Cedars pre-departure facility and the expansion and renovation of Tinsley House.[48] Cedars and Tinsley House would be able to hold families for up to 72 hours, but with a ministerial declaration the confinement period could extend to a week in exceptional cases.[49] Observers contended at the time that this still constituted detention. Commented an analyst at the Centre for Migration Policy Research, “If the Government has decided, as it appears to have done, that it cannot end the detention of children—or is unwilling to do so—then it should acknowledge that this is the case and be prepared to be challenged. … To repackage detention as ‘pre-departure accommodation’ is disingenuous.”[50]

In July 2016, the government announced that it would close the Cedars facility, citing the Shaw Review’s conclusion that it was not cost-effective. It said that Cedars would be replaced with a “new pre-departure accommodation near Gatwick Airport, as a discrete unit at Tinsley House immigration removal centre.”[51]

The private charity Barnardo’s, which operated within Cedars, working alongside Immigration Officers and G4S, opposed the decision, saying in a statement that it did “not feel that the new proposed accommodation is in the best interests of the children.”[52] Observers noted that Tinsley House is “a secure detention centre surrounded by a chain-link fence, run by G4S that resembles a prison.”[53] A Labour MP, noting that the announcement was made on the day before Parliament recessed for summer, commented:  “On the last day of Parliament, Ministers quietly abandoned the promise to end the immigration detention of children. Totally indefensible.”[54]

Under the Immigration Act 2014, unaccompanied children may only be held for a maximum of 24 hours at a short-term holding facility and only if the following two conditions are met: (1) directions are in force that require the child to be removed from the short-term holding facility within the relevant 24 hour period, or a decision on whether or not to give directions is likely to result in such directions; and (2) the immigration officer with the authority to detain the child reasonably believes that the child will be removed from the short-term holding facility within the relevant 24-hour period.[55]

The government has explored a range of alternative measures for families who “have no right to be in the UK” but “refuse to depart” and thus qualify for “ensured return.”[56] These alternatives include “open accommodation,” semi-secure “pre-departure accommodation,” and several pilot projects that seek to make use of existing accommodation schemes that house asylum seekers in the community.[57] Observers have criticised some of these “alternatives” as amounting to detention.[58] (For more about the various facilities used for these cases, see “Detention Infrastructure” below.)

On the other hand, some analysts have highlighted the positive impact of the 2010 policy. An inspector for HMIP wrote in 2013, “While families with children continue to be detained, fewer children are held for shorter periods, and in better conditions. The number of children entering detention was 53 in the first quarter of 2012, which is a substantial reduction on the many hundreds of children routinely held each quarter under the old system.”[59]

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported in 2015 that children, particularly those arriving from war-torn countries like Syria and Afghanistan, are routinely misclassified by border and asylum officers as being adults and are subsequently detained in adult detention centres despite clear evidence that they are children and without referring their cases to social services, as provided for in government guidelines. The Refugee Council found that at least 127 children had been found misclassified as adults since 2010, although some believe that number to represent “merely the tip of the iceberg.”[60]

Upon arriving in the UK, asylum seekers are assessed by immigration officers in an initial screening interview, during which government guidelines provide that children should be referred to social services for an official age assessment. If a person’s appearance or demeanour “very strongly suggests that they are significantly over 18 years of age” then immigration officials can decide to send them to a detention centre.[61] However, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that only one in 10 immigration officers had sufficient child safety training.[62]

As of January 2016, families were being detained in Tinsley House, Cedars, Dover Dock, Heathrow Terminal 2, and Cayley House.[63]

Detention of asylum seekers. Asylum seekers may be detained “pending examination, pending a decision whether to remove, and pending removal.”[64] In addition, those asylum seekers who have passed through other European countries on their way to the United Kingdom may be detained awaiting return to their first country of entry in the European Union (EU), in accordance with the Dublin regulation, which provides that asylum seekers must make their claims in the first country of entry in the EU.[65]

In 1998, the UK government issued a white paper titled “Fairer, Faster and Firmer—A Modern Approach to Immigration and Asylum,” which sought to distinguish between the detention of unauthorized immigrants and asylum seekers. It stressed that temporary admission or release was the preferred measure for asylum applicants, and that detention should be used only as a last resort—after alternatives to detention have been considered.[66]

However, in 2014, a total of 14,056 asylum seekers were detained.[67] Further, observers estimate[68] that people claiming asylum accounted for some 60 percent of the immigration detainee population in 2013.[69] According to Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID), “42 percent of asylum seekers detained in the UK go on to be released, their detention having served no purpose other than wasting human lives and taxpayers’ money.”[70]

In 2005, the UK government announced that it would process 30 percent of new asylum claims through a “detained fast track” system.[71] The system received enormous criticism, including from UNHCR, which stated that “inappropriate cases are being routed to and remaining within the detained fast track.”[72] In its 2011 publication “Fast Track to Despair,” Detention Action reported that 99 percent of asylum seekers processed through Detained Fast Track were refused asylum. This compared to an overall refusal rate in the UK system of 72 percent. Additionally, “while 22 days are allocated for the process to be completed, in reality, asylum seekers on the Detained Fast Track usually spend substantially longer in detention.”[73] In both 2015 and 2013, the UK came under criticism from two authoritative UN monitoring bodies that called for reforms of the Detained Fast Track system and for vulnerable persons and torture survivors not to be routed through the system.[74]

Detention Action legally challenged the detained fast track system in 2014.[75] In this case, the UK Court of Appeal held that the practice of detaining asylum seekers while their appeals were pending was unlawful because the decision to continue detention was based only on considerations of speed and convenience without considering a risk of absconding.[76] In a second case brought by Detention Action in 2015, the Court of Appeal held that the detained fast track system was structurally unfair and unjust.[77]

On 2 July 2015, the Minister of State for Immigration announced the temporary suspension of the system.[78] The Secretary of State for the Home Department requested permission to appeal the 2015 decision of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court. However, on 12 November 2015, the Supreme Court denied the government’s permission to appeal, rendering the Court of Appeal’s judgment definitive.[79]

Detention of women. Women held in immigration detention in the UK represent a particularly vulnerable group. Issues faced by women in detention include depression, miscarriages, and sexual abuse. Most women are detained at Yarl’s Wood IRC, with small numbers held for up to a week in Colnbrook IRC in a separate unit, and for longer at Dungavel IRC where they mix with men.[80]

An unannounced visit to Yarl’s Wood IRC by the HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) in 2015 revealed that 45 percent of women feel unsafe at the detention centre, in part because the number of violent incidents had increased since 2013.[81] A study conducted by Women for Refugee Women found that 93 percent of women interviewed felt depressed in detention and more than half had considered committing suicide.[82]

More than 85 percent of the women interviewed by Women for Refugee Women also reported having been raped or tortured, with many describing sexual harassment at Yarl’s Wood as widespread.[83] During a visit to the UK in 2014, the UN Special Rapporteur (SR) on Violence against Women was prevented from visiting Yarl’s Wood IRC, which has been managed by the private prison company Serco since 2007. Despite the SR’s repeated requests, the UK government failed to comply with the terms of reference for UN fact-finding missions and the SR was informed by the centre’s director that “instructions had been received to deny entry” to her.[84]

Many women feel that those working at the detention centres do not fully understand their needs as detainees. The HMIP’s visit to Yarl’s Wood IRC found that there were too many men on staff, which resulted in men being used inappropriately, such as to fill healthcare roles, or certain processes being delayed until female staff were available.[85] Healthcare for women in detention was repeatedly criticised as deficient. Women interviewed by the HMIP were “overwhelmingly negative about access, quality of care and delayed medication.” In addition, “Care planning for women with complex needs was so poor it put them at risk.”[86] Pregnant women in particular have experienced stillbirths, miscarriages, and acute psychosis while being held in detention.[87]

The detention of pregnant women has been the subject of widespread opprobrium. The UK government has argued that it is vital for the Home Office to have the ability to detain pregnant women for short periods of time and as a last resort in order to be able to quickly remove them or if they present a risk to the public.[88] There must be exceptional reasons to justify the detention of a pregnant woman, unless there is a clear prospect of early removal and medical advice suggests no question of confinement prior to detention, although “there is little to suggest that pregnant women are being detained only in exceptional circumstances.”[89]

On 18 April 2016, the UK Home Office announced that it would adopt a 72-hour time limit on the detention of pregnant women, which could be extended up to a week in total with ministerial authorisation.[90] The government claims this proposed change will “provide an additional safeguard in any case involving a pregnant woman being held at an immigration detention centre, before their removal from the country.”[91] However, one review found that the vast majority of pregnant detainees were ultimately released, suggesting that those women may not have been correctly detained in the first place.[92]

Judicial review and bail. According to schedule 10 of the Immigration Act 2016 immigration bail may be granted in cases of “detention of persons liable to examination or removal”, and “detention pending deportation.” Although the Act provides for automatic bail hearings after four months in detention, there is no direct or automatic judicial oversight of the detention process. Detainees must actively challenge the lawfulness of their detention through judicial review and habeas corpus.[93] Limited availability of legal aid and funds combined with movement between detention centres can make high quality legal advice inaccessible for many detainees.[94] Detention Action notes that this legal advice can be crucial, as “14 percent of appeals were allowed where the asylum-seeker was represented, as opposed to 2 percent where they were unrepresented.”[95]

The Home Office has an obligation to review the reasons for detention each month, which has been described by the Supreme Court of the UK as an active safeguard against unlawful detention. An independent review of immigration detention commissioned on behalf of the Home Secretary found that, in practice, this review may be neglected, conducted hastily, or omitted entirely.[96] In this regard, the Home Office has been urged by the HMIP and the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration to address these issues by completing proper reviews of the basis for detention and granting release when it is found to be warranted.[97]

However, all detainees have the right to apply for bail at any time by submitting an application to the Chief Immigration Officer, who is part of the Home Office, or the First-Tier Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber.[98] Release rates, though, are low, particularly for detainees with criminal convictions.[99]

Applications for bail represent the only direct way that detainees can challenge their detention. The process is intended to allow detainees to access an independent judge with the power to overrule a detention order. In theory, this judge is required to presume in favour of defence, and the Home Office is required to justify the detention.[100] However, Asylum Aid reports that, in practice, the Home Office’s summary of the reasons for opposing bail is occasionally late or non-existent. A more significant issue is a reliance on standard reasons for opposing an individual’s bail without additional evidence showing that the reasons apply to the particular individual.[101]

A number of concerns have been raised about the UK bail process, including the lack of information about the system provided to detainees and limited access to professional legal assistance.[102] Detainees interviewed by the LDSG universally noted that they felt the bail courts to be “hostile” and that “their refusal was decided in advance.”[103] Concerns have also been raised over the routine use of video conference systems in bail hearings, allowing detainees to remain at the detention centre and attend their hearing remotely.[104] Although the use of video links avoids long journeys for detainees, issues such as lack of personal contact with the judge and problems with sound and visuals are considered to present obstacles to an effective hearing. Further, when video conference systems are used, the lawyer is allowed only 10 minutes to speak with the detainee prior to the hearing, which advocates argue is insufficient.[105]

Length of detention. The United Kingdom is the only EU member state without a legal limit on the period of immigration detention. The country opted out of the EU Return Directive, which includes an absolute maximum of 18 months for immigration detention.

While there is supposed to be an absolute time limit of five consecutive days for people detained in immigration offices at ports of entry, Short-term Holding Facilities (STHFs), police stations, or mobile detention facility vehicles,[106] there is no limit on the duration of detention in Immigration Removal Centres.

Concerns about UK’s indefinite detention policy were highlighted in an important 2015 report titled the “Report of the Inquiry into the Use of Immigration Detention in the United Kingdom,” which was the result of a joint inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees & the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration (APPGs). The report concluded that the country should cease indefinite detention and impose a time limit of 28 days.[107] 

Indefinite detention in the UK has also long been condemned by international human rights monitoring bodies, including the UN Human Rights Committee in 2015 and the UN Committee against Torture in 2013.[108] In his report on his June 2009 mission to the UK, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants recommended that the UK “take all necessary steps to prevent cases of de facto indefinite detention.”[109]

Re-entry ban. Breaches of UK’s immigration law can be sanctioned by re-entry ban for up to 10 years, including for: (a) overstaying; (b) breaching a condition attached to their leave; (c) being an “Illegal Entrant”; and (d) using deception in an application for entry clearance, leave to enter or remain (whether successful or not).[110]

Non-deportable detainees and indefinite detention. Detainees may remain in detention because removal to their home country is impossible due to risk of refoulement. Detainees with countries of origin such as Iraq and Somalia may only be returned to certain areas in their homeland, and are often reluctant to accept voluntary return given the significant safety concerns. Many of these detainees remain in detention indefinitely.[111]

Some detainees face problems with documentation because their embassies are slow in returning documentation or demand evidence of documents such as birth certificates, which detainees may not have access to. The LDSG notes that these difficulties render these detainees effectively “stateless,” and although they may be willing to accept voluntary return it is impossible for them to do so.[112] The Equal Rights Trust notes that “the practical inability to return to a country of origin has no effect on the individual’s immigration status in the UK.”[113]

Health concerns. Research has demonstrated that people placed in UK immigration-related detention often suffer serious mental health deterioration, including increased post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.[114] The 2016 Shaw Review contains an appendix written by a well-known Oxford criminologist who comprehensively reviewed available literature concerning the “impact of immigration detention on mental health.” The Shaw Review points to two key findings: (1) “There is a consistent finding from all the studies carried out across the  globe and from different academic viewpoints that immigration detention has a negative impact upon detainees’ mental health”; (2) “The impact on mental health increases the longer detention continues.”[115]

A 2009 study by the London Detainee Support Group (LDSG) revealed significant numbers of indefinite detainees developing mental health problems, self-harming, or attempting suicide.[116] From July to September 2014, there were 97 incidents of self-harm requiring medical attention in the UK’s immigration removal centres (IRCs).[117]

BID has noted a significant increase in suicides among immigration detainees. Whereas in the 14-year period 1989-2003 there were four self-inflicted deaths in custody, in the two-year period 2003-2005 there were seven.[118] In 2015, there were 393 suicide attempts in detention centres and a total of 2,957 detainees, including 11 children, were on suicide watch.[119]

Individuals with serious medical conditions, serious mental illness, or serious disabilities are detained unless the relevant condition cannot be satisfactorily managed in detention. However, many detention centres are not equipped to hold elderly people or individuals with disabilities and only a few IRCs have 24-hour healthcare available.[120] The UN Committee against Torture has expressed concern about this policy of detaining migrants with serious mental disabilities in particular.[121]

Rule 35 is a mechanism in the UK Detention Centre Rules that is meant to protect detainees whose health is likely to be “injuriously affected” by detention, survivors of torture, and detainees thought to have suicidal intentions.[122] Rule 35 requires IRC medical practitioners to inform the Home Office when these detainees are being held. Upon receipt of this information, the Home Office is obliged to review the individual’s detention and determine if release is appropriate.[123]

However, the Rule 35 process has faced criticism and its failings have been documented over time. HMIP has regularly criticised these failings and has found that “reports often fail to offer meaningful commentary and replies are dismissive.”[124] HMIP also expressed concern over the safeguard failing to protect individuals detained in prisons by being available only to those detainees held in IRCs.[125] Detention Action has noted that the common conclusion regarding the Rule 35 process is that it “simply does not work.”[126] In a 2013 report on the mental health of immigrants in detention, Medical Justice found that Rule 35 fails in practice because “forms are often not initiated when they would be appropriate, and then the majority appear ignored by the UKBA anyway.”[127]An audit of Rule 35 use in detention centres by the former UKBA found that only nine percent of Rule 35 reports led to the release of the detainee.[128]

A joint inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees and the All Parliamentary Group on Migration found that the screening interviews that are conducted at the start of detention and meant to gain information about any health issues are “routinely tick-box processes that do not allow detainees to talk about possible concerns.” The inquiry also found that detainees describe the healthcare they receive in detention as inadequate.[129]

Detainees interviewed by BID reported that “the only health care on offer is painkillers”; one detainee noted “the difficulty … is getting a doctor to attend to your concerns, because most times you complain about something you’re only given paracetamol anyway.”[130] Discontent amongst inmates has also been displayed through riots and protests in detention centres. These protests have focused on issues such as limited access to legal advice and medical care.[131]

Children have exhibited severe and lasting psychological and physical trauma after being placed in UK detention centres. A 2010 report by the UK charity Medical Justice found that of 141 children studied during the period 2004-2010, “74 children were reported to have been psychologically harmed as a result of being detained. Symptoms included bed wetting and loss of bowel control, heightened anxiety, food refusal, withdrawal and disinterest, and persistent crying. 34 children exhibited signs of developmental regression, and six children expressed suicidal ideation either whilst or after they were detained. Three girls attempted to end their own lives. … 92 children were reported to have physical health problems which were either exacerbated, or caused by immigration detention. These problems included fever, vomiting, abdominal pains, diarrhoea, musculoskeletal pain, coughing up blood, and injuries as a result of violence.”[132]

Experts have also noted the negative psychological impact resulting from the UK practice of transferring detainees between removal centres. Discussing this practice, one scholar writes that an important “source of forced mobility associated with Removal Centres is the transfer of detainees from one Removal Centre to another for a variety of reasons, from the practical constraints imposed by the capacities of various centres, to differences in the conditions of centres themselves, which are used to form a reward and sanction mechanism among the detainee population.”[133] While these transfers still take place, sources in the UK told the GDP that they appear to have become less frequent in recent years.

Foreign national offenders. In 2006, the Home Office introduced a policy of “presumption of detention” for people awaiting deportation after serving prison sentences. “As a result, detention was no longer used primarily for people about to be removed; instead, the priority became to detain ex-offenders, even where intractable obstacles to removal existed.”[134]

Unless they fall under one of the six exceptions provided in the UK Borders Act, foreign national prisoners (FNPs) who have been sentenced to a period of imprisonment of at least 12 months are subject to deportation. Although these foreign offenders remain in prison under Immigration Act powers, they are not included in official detention statistics.[135] 

The Shaw Review revealed that the 20 longest stayers in IRC detention were ex-offenders. One man interviewed for the report had been in immigration detention since March 2010 after he was sentenced to four years imprisonment and his effective sentence expired two years later. A list provided by the UK National Offender Management Service showing establishments in which former foreign national offenders, held under immigration powers, were detained provided that on one day in Spring 2015, “there were 62 prisons in the list holding a total of 399 detainees.”[136]

The government argues that these detention measures are designed to protect the public against re-offences and absconding. Immigration detainees are also moved to prisons if they are deemed particularly violent or disruptive. The LDSG, however, argues that ex-offenders—in addition to losing their status in the UK and being detained under immigration law for periods that go far beyond their original criminal sentences—are denied “meaningful dialogue” with the government and are frequently embroiled in complicated processes that have little bearing on the resolution of their cases.[137] This can result in detainees remaining in prisons after finishing their custodial sentences.[138] Under the 2009 Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act, those people detained solely for immigration violations may be detained alongside criminal detainees.

Privatisation. The earliest UK immigration detention centres, opened in the 1970s, were run by the private sector. This decision was made with the view to ensure that non-prisoners would not be subject to the oppressive treatment criminals faced under the guard of prison or police officers.[139] Today, seven of the country’s immigration removal centres are managed by one of four private contractors: G4S, Serco, Mitie PLC, or GEO Group. The National Offender Management Service operates the two remaining facilities. In 2011, the contract for managing holding rooms, the non-residential short term holding facility, and the three residential short term holding facilities passed to Tascor.[140]

The privatisation of immigration detention in the UK has been the subject of widespread criticism, which has been spurred in part by the numerous official and media reports regarding assaults and beatings of detainees at the hands of private security guards during the detention and removal process. For example, in August 2015, two staff members at Yarl’s Wood detention centre, which is operated by Serco, were suspended following allegations of verbal abuse towards female detainees.[141]

In 2008, a coalition of NGOs detailed some 300 cases of alleged assaults that took place during 2004-2008. The allegations came from people from more than 41 countries, with the majority being made by African migrants. The report raised concerns about the complaints procedure within the centres, stating that the current procedure was largely ineffective.[142]

The death of an Angolan deportee Jimmy Mubenga in October 2010 led to rumours that Scotland Yard was considering filing corporate manslaughter charges against G4S, a security firm that operates two IRCs (Brook House and Tinsley House). Mubenga died while being deported and after being restrained by G4S guards, leading to allegations of “excessive force.”[143] Three guards were initially for the death on manslaughter charges.[144] The 2014 trial of the guards resulted in a not guilty verdict for all three even though an earlier inquest jury had concluded that Mubenga was unlawfully killed[145] and a coroner’s report that was withheld from the jury found that “endemic racism” among G4S staff was a factor.[146]

The UK government has tried to use the privately operated nature of facilities as a shield to protect itself from liability in cases concerning alleged unlawful detentions at such facilities. In the 2005 case of ID and others v. The Home Office, “The Home Office sought to argue that although an immigration officer (and the Home Office which has vicarious liability) had authorised the detentions of the D family it was not liable for false imprisonment for the detention as the physical detainer was a private contractor. The Court of Appeal … dealt with this matter quickly. It concluded that the detentions were caused by the immigration officers who authorised them and, although this authority protected the private contractor which detained, it did not protect the immigration officer if the giving of his/her authority was an unlawful act.”[147]

Importantly, the Court of Appeal also found in this case “that foreign nationals did not fall into a special category, emphasising the particular importance that the law attached to the liberty of the person and that it was beyond doubt that the rule of law extended not simply to British nationals but also to immigrants subject to administrative detention.”[148]

A 2005 study published by the University of Oxford Refugee Studies Centre reported that private companies that also operate prisons in other countries were persistent lobbyists in the arena of detention policy. Private contractors are provided with a fee per inmate per day, rendering immigration detention a lucrative business. According to study, “The growth of the detention regime is not based solely on ever-restrictive asylum laws and policies. Its growth can also be attributed to the involvement [of] private contractors, whose logic of response to asylum seekers has very little to do with the logic of the government’s response, concerned as they are with winning and maintaining contracts and keeping their facilities full.”[149]

In 2005, the UKBA issued the Detention Services Operating Standards Manual for Immigration Service Removal Centres in an effort to improve the performance of private contractors and bring them into compliance with UK policy. The standards, which build on the Detention Centre Rules, include details on the provision of legal services, accommodation, activities for detainees, admission and discharge protocol, the detention of female detainees, the provision of health care and a number of other areas of concern for detainees.[150] 

Private companies have also been criticised for their management of non-secure asylum housing facilities where people awaiting decisions on their asylum claims can be accommodated. In 2013, a Home Office committee was convened “to investigate why G4S and Serco had not fulfilled their contract to provide decent housing, while allowing subcontractors to bully tenants.”[151]

Monitoring and inspection. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP), a government appointed human rights-based monitoring institution and coordinator of the the UK’s National Preventive Mechanism,[152] has the main responsibility for inspecting immigration detention centres and short-term holding facilities in the UK. The HMIP’s website provides access to detailed reports of its inspections. Every IRC is subject to an unannounced inspection at last once every four years.

According to a 2016 Working Paper for the Global Detention Project written by an HMIP inspector, the inspectorate’s duties “are laid out in the Criminal Justice Act 1982 and include reporting on the treatment of prisoners and conditions in prisons, and submitting an annual report to Parliament. These duties were extended to immigration detention centres by the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, and to short-term immigration holding facilities and escort arrangements by the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006. The first inspections of immigration detention took place in 2002, although routine inspections began only in 2004.” (For an account of HMIPs work, see Hindpal Singh Bhui, “Can Inspection Produce Meaningful Change in Immigration Detention?” GDP Working Paper No. 12, May 2016.)

According to the Immigration and Asylum Act of 1999, an Independent Board must also monitor each IRC. These boards are composed of volunteers and draw from the communities in which the detention centres are located.[153]

 

DETENTION INFRASTRUCTURE

As of September 2016, there were more than a dozen facilities in operation in the UK that met the GDP's criteria for being listed as immigration detention sites: Nine long-term facilities called “Immigration Removal Centres”; three residential “Short-Term Holding Facilities” that can be used to confine people for up to seven days; and one “pre-departure” facility for families.[154] To this list one could add the various prisons that administratively detain non-citizens who have completed criminal sentences and are awaiting deportation.

Two of these facilities were slated for closure at the time of this publication: The Cedars family “pre-departure” facility and the Dungavel immigration removal centre.

The UK administrative immigration detention estate has grown considerably in recent decades. In 1993, it had a total capacity of 250.[155] By 2003, it was operating seven immigration removal centres with an estimated total capacity of 1,600; by 2011, the estate had grown to 15 facilities with a total estimated capacity of 3,500.[156] By 2015, the country’s immigration detention capacity had increased to approximately 4,270.[157] There are an estimated 400 additional spaces used in prisons.[158]

Non-citizens can also be held at immigration offices at ports of entry; control zones authorized in the Immigration Act 1971; premises of legal appeal; any police station or hospital; young offender institutions; prison or remand centres; or any vehicle that has been specifically designed or adapted for use as a mobile detention facility and approved by the secretary of state for such use.[159] Many holding facilities at ports of entry that are used for fingerprinting and identify checks have been criticized for detaining people for periods that are deemed excessively long given the nature of the facilities. One such facility is at Dover dock. Experts consider that this facility should be used for less than 24 hours, but evidence suggests many people are held for more than 36 hours.[160]

Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs). As of September 2016, the United Kingdom maintained nine IRCs: Brook House IRC (London Gatwick Airport, Gatwick); Campsfield House IRC (Kidlington, Oxon); Colnbrook IRC (Harmondsworth, West Drayton, Middlesex); Dungavel IRC (Strathaven, South Lanarkshire); Harmondsworth IRC (Harmondsworth, West Drayton); Morton Hall IRC (Swinderby, Lincolnshire); The Verne IRC (Portland, Dorset); Tinsley House IRC (Gatwick Airport, Gatwick); and Yarl’s Wood IRC (Clapham, Bedfordshire).[161]

The UK Home Office has stated that, on average, it costs £92.67 to keep someone in detention for one night, which amounts to nearly £34,000 per detainee/year.[162]

Seven IRCs—Brook House, Campsfield House, Colnbrook, Dungavel, Harmondsworth, Tinsley House, and Yarl’s Wood—are managed by one of four private contractors: G4S, Serco, Mitie PLC or GEO Group. The two remaining facilities—Morton Hall and the Verne—are operated by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS).[163]

According to the 2016 Shaw Review, the IRCs “differ in their size and physical security, and these factors have an influence upon the welfare issues that are the focus of this review. Dungavel, Campsfield House, and Tinsley House are relatively small and the perimeter security and internal zoning is relatively unobtrusive. The three NOMS-run centres: Dover [closed in 2015], Morton Hall and The Verne, all have significant open air space. In contrast, Brook House, Colnbrook, and Harmondsworth were constructed to category B prison standards, and are somewhat claustrophobic and have the ‘feel’ and look of contemporary gaols. Yarl’s Wood was rebuilt after the 2002 arson and disturbance, and is characterised amongst other things by long corridors and an absence of natural light.”[164]

(Detailed accounts on the operations of the IDCs can be found on the HMIP website as well as in the “Shaw Review.”)

Short-Term Holding Facilities. There are short-term hold facilities (STHFs) throughout the United Kingdom, many of them located in or near airports or other points of transit.[165] These STHFs are designed to facilitate further questioning of incoming passengers denied immediate entry into the country. Most of these centres are non-residential, and the typical stay is under 12 hours. There are, however, three “residential” STHFs in which people can be held for up to seven days.

There have been numerous complaints about conditions at STHFs, including poor lighting and ventilation, uncomfortable seating arrangements, and inadequate sleeping or washing facilities.[166]

The residential STHFs are designed to house people for up to five days, with the possibility of extension to seven days. The residential STHFs include Pennine House STHF (Terminal 2, Manchester Airport, Manchester) and Larne House STHF (Larne, Northern Ireland).[167] The Shaw Review highlighted that these two facilities operate without “statutory rules,” which it concluded “is not acceptable as a matter of good public administration.”

Non-residential STHFs include those located in or associated with airports, such as Birmingham Airport, London City Airport, Heathrow Airport Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport Terminal 4, and Heathrow Airport Terminal 3. During unannounced inspections by the HMIP, common issues at these non-residential STHFs included unnecessary attention being drawn to detainees as a result of escort staff wearing high visibility vests and escorted detainees being handcuffed regardless of the risk they posed and poor conditions, such as a lack of natural light and inadequate ventilation.[168]

Prisons and police stations. Various prisons and police stations in the United Kingdom are used for immigration detention purposes. Immigration detainees may be held in police stations for up to seven days.[169] Non-citizens who have completed criminal sentences can remain confined in prisons pending deportation for a number of reasons.

The government claims that “the routine use of prison accommodation to hold immigration detainees ended in 2002. Prison accommodation continues to be used for individual detainees, particularly foreign national offenders pending deportation on release from custodial sentences, for reasons of security and control in line with published criteria.”[170]

According to an agreement between the National Offender Management Service and the Home Office, there are up to 400 prison beds that can be used for immigration detainees.[171] The Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees estimates that the number of individuals is closer to 600.[172]

During an inspection of Wormwood Scrubs Prison in 2014, HM Inspectorate of Prisons found an immigration detainee who “had been held for 18 months after completing his sentence.” In 2013, inspectors at HMP Lincoln found six prisoners held for over and year, and one for over two years. Foreign prisoners are often informed that they will be detained under immigration powers “at the last minute” or “on the day they expected to be released.”[173] Further, detainees held in prisons face additional difficulties when compared to those detained in IRCs, including the lack of guaranteed access to legal advisors, severely limited telephone contact, and increased potential to face violent confrontations.[174]

Experts in the UK have argued that researching this aspect of immigration detention is hampered by a lack of data provided by government agencies.[175] Thus, it can be difficult to ascertain which prison facilities may be used routinely for immigration-related detention. Previously, scholars noted that the prison service preferred “to group its foreign national prisoners in a few establishments, rather than spread them out evenly across the entire penal estate.”[176] However, a an expert reviewer of this profile who provided comments on background told that GDP that although a “hubs and spokes” was intended to concentrate foreign national in fewer prisons, today they are “in fact spread throughout the estate.”

According to Home Office estimates more than 5,600 “foreign national offenders” were removed in 2015. Numbers have fluctuated between 4,600 and 5,600 since 2009. The Migration Observatory reports that there are gaps in data on deportations and removals, which indicate the number of rejected asylum applicants (5,238 in 2015) and foreign national prisoners, but do not disaggregate by reason for removal.[177]

“Accommodation” for children and families. The IRCs were previously equipped to house families. However, since legislative changes in 2010 that were purportedly intended to end the detention of children, families in irregular situations have been channelled to what the UK government deems non-custodial accommodations (see “Detention of children” above). As part of this policy, the government has explored a range of “alternative” forms of accommodation for families who qualify for “ensured return.”[178] These alternatives include “open accommodation,” semi-secure “pre-departure accommodation,” and several pilot projects that seek to make use of existing accommodation schemes which house asylum seekers in the community.[179]

One of the more controversial “alternatives” has been the “family friendly” Cedars pre-departure accommodation centre in Pease Pottage. According to immigration authorities, families are only “referred to Cedars on the advice of the Family Returns Panel, an independent body of child welfare experts, and will stay no more than 72 hours before their departure from the UK. In exceptional circumstances, with ministerial authority, this may be extended to 1 week.”[180] The facility is mainly intended for those families who “fail to co-operate with other options to leave the UK, such as the offer of assisted voluntary return.”[181]

Although the facility was designed as a secure detention facility, the GDP designates it a semi-secure site because it provides the possibility for freedom of movement and temporary exit for certain residents. According to the Home Office, “Families with children who are resident at Cedars can leave the facility for short periods of time to participate in an approved activity, subject to a risk assessment and suitable supervision.”[182]

Regarding conditions at Cedars, the Shaw Review reported that there appeared to be no reason “to doubt HM Chief Inspector of Prisons’s characterisation of Cedars as ‘an exceptional facility’ and ‘an example of best practice in caring for ... some of the most vulnerable people subject to immigration control.’”[183]  According to an official at HMIP “It is also important that other parts of the detention estate learn from Cedars. In particular, its open design and welfare orientation, and the ability to have effective immigration controls based on short periods of detention. It has been recognised that the open ended approach to child detention is not acceptable.”[184]

Cedars is privately operated. G4S provides security services, facilities management, and medical services. Barnardo’s—a British charity that cares for vulnerable children and young people—provides welfare and social care services.[185]

The Shaw Review called for closing Cedars, contending that it was prohibitively expensive.[186] Total costs for 2014-2015 were estimated to be £6,398,869. The centre held only 14 families that year, making the cost per family more than £450,000.[187] Reported Shaw: “[M]y overriding impression was of a misdirection of public money that could be better used for other purposes. The centre has had no residents on either of the two occasions I have visited.”[188]

In the summer of 2016, the UK government announced that Cedars pre-departure accommodation was to be closed and that families about to be removed would be held at new accommodations being prepared at the Tinsley House Removal Centre. According to BID, six years after the government’s pledge to end the detention of children, not only are children still detained, but housing families in an IRC would be a “fundamental and unacceptable reversal” and would expose children to damage.[189]

The planned refurbishment of IRC Tinsley House to serve as a “high security detention facility to accommodate families deemed too ‘disruptive’” for a pre-departure accommodation such as Cedars has long been controversial.[190] Families also continue to be detained for short periods at Dover Dock STHF, Heathrow Terminal 2, and Cayley House.[191]

 

 

[1] The GDP would like to acknowledge the helpful comments it received from several external reviewers of early drafts of this profile.

[2] In mid-2016, the government announced that it intended to close one of the nine IRCs (Dungavel) as well as the “pre-departure” family facility at Cedars. 

[3] For an overview of the UK detention estate, see Mary Bosworth, “Border Criminologies: Assessing the Changing Architecture of Crime and Punishment,” Global Detention Project Working Paper, February 2016, http://www.globaldetentionproject.org/publications/border-criminologies-assessing-changing-architecture-crime-and-punishment.

[4] The Home Office explains on its detention statistics page that the figures “relate to the number of people entering, leaving or in detention, solely under Immigration Act powers, at immigration removal centres (IRCs), short-term holding facilities (STHFs) and pre-departure accommodation (PDA).” See Home Office, National Statistics – Detention, updated 3 March 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-statistics-january-to-march-2016/detention.

[5] Home Office, National Statistics – Detention, updated 3 March 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-statistics-january-to-march-2016/detention.

[6] Hindpal Singh Bhui, “The changing approach to child detention and its implications for immigration detention in the UK,” Prison Service Journal, January 2013, https://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/sites/crimeandjustice.org.uk/files/PSJ%20January%202013%20No.%20205.pdf.

[7] Stephen Shaw, Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons: A Report to the Home Office, January 2016, UK Home Office, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.pdf. 

[8] The Guardian, “Theresa May to put 72-hour limit on detention of pregnant asylum seekers,” 17 April 2016, http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/apr/17/pregnant-asylum-seekers-detention.

[9] Parliament, “Cedars pre-departure accommodation: Written statement - HCWS114,” 21 July 2016, https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-07-21/HCWS114/.

[10] All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees & the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration, “Report of the Inquiry into the Use of Immigration Detention in the United Kingdom,” March 2016, https://detentioninquiry.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/immigration-detention-inquiry-report.pdf .

[11] Mary Bosworth, “Border Criminologies: Assessing the Changing Architecture of Crime and Punishment,” Global Detention Project Working Paper No. 10, February 2016, http://www.globaldetentionproject.org/publications/border-criminologies-assessing-changing-architecture-crime-and-punishment.

[12] Human Rights Committee Concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 17 August 2015, file:///Users/mariettegdp/Downloads/G1518229.pdf and Committee against Torture, Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, adopted by the Committee at its fiftieth session (6-31 May 2013), 24 June 2013, file:///Users/mariettegdp/Downloads/G1344743%20(1).pdf

[13] Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association, The Detained Fast Track Process: A Best Practice Guide, January 2008.

[14] Detention Action, “The Legal Challenge,” http://detentionaction.org.uk/campaigns/end-the-fast-track-to-despair/legal-challenge.

[15] Inquiry into the use of Immigration Detention, “Detention Inquiry Panel Members Statement on the Immigration Act 2016 becoming law,” 17 May 2016, https://detentioninquiry.com/2016/05/17/detention-inquiry-panel-members-statement-on-the-immigration-act-2016-becoming-law/.

[16] Hindpal Singh Bhui, “The changing approach to child detention and its implications for immigration detention in the UK,” Prison Service Journal, January 2013, https://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/sites/crimeandjustice.org.uk/files/PSJ%20January%202013%20No.%20205.pdf.

[17] Hindpal Singh Bhui, “The changing approach to child detention and its implications for immigration detention in the UK,” Prison Service Journal, January 2013, https://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/sites/crimeandjustice.org.uk/files/PSJ%20January%202013%20No.%20205.pdf.

[18] Christine Bacon, RSC Working Paper No. 27: The Evolution of Immigration Detention in the UK: The Involvement of Private Prison Companies, Working Paper Series, Refugee Studies Centre, Department of International Development, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford, September 2005.

[19] Stephen Shaw, Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons: A Report to the Home Office, January 2016, UK Home Office, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.pdf. 

[20] UK Home Office, Visas and Immigration, Immigration Bill: Overview, Guidance, 9 December 2015, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-bill-2015-overarching-documents/immigration-bill-201516-overview-factsheet.

[21] UK Parliament, Immigration Bill 2015-16: Progress of the Bill, last updated 10 May 2016, http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2015-16/immigration.html.

[22] Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, Hostile Environment Renewed with Full Force with New Immigration Bill 2015, 22 September 2015, https://www.jcwi.org.uk/blog/2015/09/22/hostile-environment-renewed-full-force-new-immigration-bill-2015.

[23] Chai Patel, Immigration Bill 2015 – What You Need to Know, Migrants’ Rights Network, 18 September 2015, http://www.migrantsrights.org.uk/blog/2015/09/immigration-bill-2015-what-you-need-know.

[24] Mary Bosworth, Perrie Lectures 2008: Foreign Nationals in Prison and Detention, Prison Service Journal, Issue 180; Scottish Government, Legislative Consent Memorandum: Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill, January 2009, http://www.scotland.gov.uk/About/Sewel/SessionThree/BordersCitizenship.

[25] UK National Audit Office, Reforming the UK Border and Immigration System, 2014, https://www.nao.org.uk/report/reforming-uk-border-immigration-system-2/.

[26] Refugee Action, Goodbye to Choices, Our Assisted Voluntary Return Service, 25 November 2015, http://www.refugee-action.org.uk/about/blog/2451_goodbye_to_choices_our_assisted_voluntary_return_service.

[27] Refugee Action, Goodbye to Choices, Our Assisted Voluntary Return Service, 25 November 2015, http://www.refugee-action.org.uk/about/blog/2451_goodbye_to_choices_our_assisted_voluntary_return_service.

[28] Bail for Immigration Detainees, A Nice Judge on a Good Day: Immigration Bail and the Right to Liberty, July 2010, http://www.irr.org.uk/pdf2/bid_good_judge.pdf.

[29] UK Visas and Immigration, Enforcement Instructions and Guidance: Detention and Removals, Chapter 55.1, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/470593/2015-10-23_Ch55_v19.pdf.

[30] Stephen Shaw, Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons: A Report to the Home Office by Stephen Shaw, January 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.pdf.

[31] R v. Governor of Durham Prison ex parte Hardial Singh [1984] 1 WLR 704.

[32] Detention Action, The State of Detention: Immigration Detention in the UK in 2014, October 2014, http://detentionaction.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/The.State_.of_.Detention.pdf.

[33] UK Visas and Immigration, Manual on Enforcement Instructions and Guidance, Chapter 55 : detention and temporary release, 12 September 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/enforcement-instructions-and-guidance.

[34] See Global Detention Project, United Kingdom, Domestic Law, https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/europe/united-kingdom

[35] Immigration Act 1971, UK Statutes Crown Copyright, Reproduced by permission of the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1971/pdf/ukpga_19710077_en.pdf.

[36] Ana Aliverti (The Migration Observatory), “Immigration Offences: Trends in Legislation and Criminal and Civil Enforcement,” 9 July 2013, http://www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/resources/briefings/immigration-offences-trends-in-legislation-and-criminal-and-civil-enforcement/.

[37] See correspondence provided in Office for National Statistics Freedom of Information page, “Control of Immigration Statistics,” 14 April 2016, https://www.ons.gov.uk/aboutus/transparencyandgovernance/freedomofinformationfoi/controlofimmigrationstatistics. Responding to a request about whether it would provide an update for the period 2006-2016, the ONS replied: “The ONS has no plans to produce an updated version of the Control of Immigration 2006 report at present. However, the majority of the core summary statistics in the report are regularly up-dated and can be found in the links below.”

[38] Ana Aliverti (The Migration Observatory), “Immigration Offences: Trends in Legislation and Criminal and Civil Enforcement,” 9 July 2013, http://www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/resources/briefings/immigration-offences-trends-in-legislation-and-criminal-and-civil-enforcement/.

[39] Office for National Statistics, “Control of Immigration 2006,” https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/228967/7197.pdf.

[40] UK Home Office, Control of Immigration: Quarterly Statistical Summary, United Kingdom, National Statistics, October – December 2008 (second edition), http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs09/immiq408.pdf.

[41] Crown Prosecution Service, Legal Guidance: Immigration, 2 August 2010, http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/h_to_k/immigration/#eentering.

[42] Ministry of Justice, Simple Cautions for Foreign National Offenders: Pilot Policy Statement, http://www.irr.org.uk/pdf2/MOJ_061210.pdf.

[43] Bail for Immigration Detainees, Breaking the Cycle: Effective Punishment, Rehabilitation and Sentencing of Offenders, March 2011.

[44] Home Office, National Statistics – Detention, updated 3 March 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-statistics-january-to-march-2016/detention.

[45] For a detailed assessment of this policy and its impacts, see Hindpal Singh Bhui, “The changing approach to child detention and its implications for immigration detention in the UK,” Prison Service Journal, January 2013, https://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/sites/crimeandjustice.org.uk/files/PSJ%20January%202013%20No.%20205.pdf

[46] Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 12 July 2016

https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G16/149/88/PDF/G1614988.pdf?OpenElement

[47] UK Border Agency, New Family Returns Process Begins, 28 February 2011, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-family-returns-process-begins.

[48] Stephanie J. Silverman & Ruchi Hajela, Briefing: Immigration Detention in the UK, The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, 6 February 2015.

[49] Stephanie J. Silverman & Ruchi Hajela, Briefing: Immigration Detention in the UK, The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, 6 February 2015.

[50] Crawley, Heaven. 2011. “Detention by another name?” Migrants’ Rights Network. 10 March 2011.

[51] Minister of State for Immigration, "Cedars pre-departure accommodation: Written statement - HCWS114,” Parliament, 21 July 2016, http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-07-21/HCWS114.

[52] Barnardo’s, “Barnardo's statement on Cedars accommodation,” 21 July 2016, http://www.barnardos.org.uk/news/Barnardos-statement-on-Cedars-accommodation/press_releases.htm?ref=117378.

[53] Jon Stone, "Government accused of scrapping pledge to end child detention in prison-style immigration removal centres,” The Independent, 22 July 2016, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/child-detention-immigration-centres-scrapped-broken-promise-tinsley-house-cedars-barnados-home-a7149981.html

[54] Jon Stone, "Government accused of scrapping pledge to end child detention in prison-style immigration removal centres,” The Independent, 22 July 2016, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/child-detention-immigration-centres-scrapped-broken-promise-tinsley-house-cedars-barnados-home-a7149981.html

[55] Immigration Act 2014, Section 5, http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/22/section/5.

[56] UK Border Agency, New Family Returns Process Begins, 28 February 2011, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-family-returns-process-begins.

[57] Isra Hussain (Freedom of Information Team, UKBA), Freedom of Information Request ref : 17978, 31 March 2011, http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/64249/response/163683/attach/2/FOI%2017978%20AE.pdf; BBC News, Glasgow Offers Alternative to Child Detention, 7 August 2010, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-10903378.

[58] Simon Parker, The UK Continues to Detain Children, a Year after the Coalition's Pledge to End It, Open Democracy, 11 May 2011, http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/simon-parker/uk-continues-to-detain-children-year-after-coalitions-pledge-to-end-it.

[59] Hindpal Singh Bhui, “The changing approach to child detention and its implications for immigration detention in the UK,” Prison Service Journal, January 2013, https://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/sites/crimeandjustice.org.uk/files/PSJ%20January%202013%20No.%20205.pdf

[60] Maeve McClenaghan, Vulnerable Children Locked Up in Immigration Detention Centres for Adults Due to Home Office Blunders, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 22 June 2015, https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2015/06/22/asylum-seeking-children-locked-up-adult-immigration-detention-centre-due-to-home-office-blunders/.

[61] UK Visas and Immigration, Assessing Age, 15 June 2011, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/257462/assessing-age.pdf.

[62] Maeve McClenaghan, Vulnerable Children Locked Up in Immigration Detention Centres for Adults Due to Home Office Blunders, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 22 June 2015, https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2015/06/22/asylum-seeking-children-locked-up-adult-immigration-detention-centre-due-to-home-office-blunders/.

[63] Stephen Shaw, Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons: A Report to the Home Office by Stephen Shaw, January 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.pdf.

[64] Gina Clayton, Textbook on Immigration and Asylum Law, 2008, Oxford University Press.

[65] Human Rights Watch, Fast-Tracked Unfairness: Detention and Denial of Woman Asylum Seekers in the UK, 2010, http://www.hrw.org/en/node/88666/section/2.

[66] UK Home Office, Fairer, Faster, and Firmer – A Modern Approach to Immigration and Asylum, 27 July 1998, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fairer-faster-and-firmer-a-modern-approach-to-immigration-and-asylum.

[67] Asylum Aid, Country Report: United Kingdom, Asylum Information Database, edited by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, November 2015.

[68] Stephanie J. Silverman & Ruchi Hajela, Briefing: Immigration Detention in the UK, The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, 6 February 2015.

[69] A reviewer of an early draft of this profile commented that statistics on the numbers of detained asylum seekers in the UK can be “difficult to interpret as asylum is now one of the only ways people can seek relief from deportation.”

[70] Bail for Immigration Detainees, Out of Sight, out of Mind: Experiences of Immigration Detention in the UK, July 2009, http://www.biduk.org/163/bid-research-reports/out-of-sight-out-of-mind-experiences-of-immigration-detention-in-the-uk.html.

[71] UK Visas and Immigration, Detained Fast Track Processes, 11 June 2013, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/detained-fast-track-processes-instruction.

[72] Bail for Immigration Detainees, Out of Sight, out of Mind: Experiences of Immigration Detention in the UK, July 2009, http://www.biduk.org/163/bid-research-reports/out-of-sight-out-of-mind-experiences-of-immigration-detention-in-the-uk.html.

[73] Detention Action, Fast Track to Despair: The Unnecessary Detention of Asylum Seekers, 12 May 2011, http://www.detentionaction.org.uk/files/uploads/FastTracktoDespair.pdf.

[74] Human Rights Committee Concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 17 August 2015, file:///Users/mariettegdp/Downloads/G1518229.pdf and Committee against Torture, Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, adopted by the Committee at its fiftieth session (6-31 May 2013), 24 June 2013, file:///Users/mariettegdp/Downloads/G1344743%20(1).pdf

[75] Detention Action, The Legal Challenge, http://detentionaction.org.uk/campaigns/end-the-fast-track-to-despair/legal-challenge.

[76] Asylum Aid, Overview of the Main Changes since the Previous Report Update, Asylum Information Database, December 2014.

[77] Detention Action, The Legal Challenge, http://detentionaction.org.uk/campaigns/end-the-fast-track-to-despair/legal-challenge.

[78] Minister of State for Immigration (James Brokenshire), Asylum, House of Commons: Written Statement (HCWS83), 2 July 2015, http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-vote-office/July%202015/2%20July/6-Home-Asylum.pdf.

[79] Asylum Aid, Overview of the Main Changes since the Previous Report Update, Asylum Information Database, December 2014.

[80] Melanie Gower, Immigration Detention in the UK: An Overview, House of Commons Library, 7 September 2015.

[81] HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Report on an Unannounced Inspection of Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, 13 April-1 May 2015, http://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2015/08/Yarls-Wood-web-2015.pdf.

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[87] Natasha Tsangarides, Miscarriage, Stillbirth, Psychosis: Pregnant in UK Immigration Detention, Open Democracy UK, 11 June 2013, https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/natasha-tsangarides/miscarriage-stillbirth-psychosis-pregnant-in-uk-immigration-detention.

[88] UK Home Office, New Time Limit Planned for Pregnant Women in Detention, 18 April 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-time-limit-planned-for-pregnant-women-in-detention.

[89] Stephen Shaw, Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons: A Report to the Home Office by Stephen Shaw, January 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.pdf.

[90] UK Home Office, New Time Limit Planned for Pregnant Women in Detention, 18 April 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-time-limit-planned-for-pregnant-women-in-detention.

[91] UK Home Office, New Time Limit Planned for Pregnant Women in Detention, 18 April 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-time-limit-planned-for-pregnant-women-in-detention.

[92] Stephen Shaw, Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons: A Report to the Home Office by Stephen Shaw, January 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.pdf.

[93] European Migration Network, Ad Hoc Query on Criminal Penalties against Illegally Entering or Staying Third-Country Nationals, 21 September 2009, http://emn.intrasoft-intl.com/Downloads/prepareShowFiles.do;jsessionid=A9DB66690A242F88DC809B093089FC8B?entryTitle=illegal%20Immigration.

[94] Bail for Immigration Detainees, Out of Sight, out of Mind: Experiences of Immigration Detention in the UK, July 2009, http://www.biduk.org/163/bid-research-reports/out-of-sight-out-of-mind-experiences-of-immigration-detention-in-the-uk.html.

[95] Detention Action, Fast Track to Despair: The Unnecessary Detention of Asylum Seekers, 12 May 2011, http://www.detentionaction.org.uk/files/uploads/FastTracktoDespair.pdf.

[96] Stephen Shaw, Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons: A Report to the Home Office by Stephen Shaw, January 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.pdf.

[97] Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, The Effectiveness and Impact of Immigration Detention Casework, A Joint Thematic Review by HM Inspectorate of Prisons and the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, December 2012, http://icinspector.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Immigration-detention-casework-2012-FINAL.pdf.

[98] Asylum Aid, Country Report: United Kingdom, Asylum Information Database, edited by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, November 2015.

[99] London Detainee Support Group, Detained Lives: The Real Cost of Indefinite Immigration Detention, January 2009, http://www.detainedlives.org/wp-content/uploads/detainedlives.pdf.

[100] London Detainee Support Group, Detained Lives: The Real Cost of Indefinite Immigration Detention, January 2009, http://www.detainedlives.org/wp-content/uploads/detainedlives.pdf.

[101] Asylum Aid, Country Report: United Kingdom, Asylum Information Database, edited by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, November 2015.

[102] Bail for Immigration Detainees, A Nice Judge on a Good Day: Immigration Bail and the Right to Liberty, July 2010, http://www.irr.org.uk/pdf2/bid_good_judge.pdf.

[103] London Detainee Support Group, Detained Lives: The Real Cost of Indefinite Immigration Detention, January 2009, http://www.detainedlives.org/wp-content/uploads/detainedlives.pdf.

[104] Asylum Aid, Country Report: United Kingdom, Asylum Information Database, edited by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, November 2015.

[105] Asylum Aid, Country Report: United Kingdom, Asylum Information Database, edited by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, November 2015.

[106] UK Secretary of State, The Immigration (Places of Detention) Direction 2014 (No. 2), 28 July 2014, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/338585/detention_direction-2014-07-23.pdf.

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[110] UK Visas and Immigration, Enforcement Instructions and Guidance, Chapter 62 : Re-entry Bans, 12 September 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/chapters-46-to-62-detention-and-removals

[111] London Detainee Support Group, Detained Lives: The Real Cost of Indefinite Immigration Detention, January 2009, http://www.detainedlives.org/wp-content/uploads/detainedlives.pdf.

[112] London Detainee Support Group, Detained Lives: The Real Cost of Indefinite Immigration Detention, January 2009, http://www.detainedlives.org/wp-content/uploads/detainedlives.pdf.

[113] The Equal Rights Trust, Unraveling Anomaly: Detention, Discrimination and the Protection Needs of Stateless Persons, 19 July 2010, http://www.equalrightstrust.org/view-subdocument/index.htm?id=748.

[114] London Detainee Support Group, Detained Lives: The Real Cost of Indefinite Immigration Detention, January 2009, http://www.detainedlives.org/wp-content/uploads/detainedlives.pdf; Birnberg Peirce & Partners, Medical Justice and the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns, Outsourcing Abuse: The Use and Misuse of State-Sanctioned Force During the Detention and Removal of Asylum Seekers, 14 July 2008, http://www.medicaljustice.org.uk/content/view/411/88/.

[115] Stephen Shaw, Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons: A Report to the Home Office, January 2016, UK Home Office, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.pdf. 

[116] London Detainee Support Group, Detained Lives: The Real Cost of Indefinite Immigration Detention, January 2009, http://www.detainedlives.org/wp-content/uploads/detainedlives.pdf.

[117] Joint Inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees & the All Parliamentary Group on Migration, The Report of the Inquiry into the Use of Immigration Detention in the United Kingdom, 3 March 2015, https://detentioninquiry.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/immigration-detention-inquiry-report.pdf.

[118] Bail for Immigration Detainees, Self-Inflicted Deaths of Immigration Detainees (Briefing Paper), October 2005, http://www.biduk.org/148/briefing-papers/briefing-papers.html.

[119] No Deportations, IRCs ‘Self Harm (Attempted Suicide) and Those on ‘Self-Harm Watch’ (At Risk of Suicide) 2015, 24 March 2016, http://www.no-deportations.org.uk/Media-2014/Self-Harm2015.html.

[120] Asylum Aid, Country Report: United Kingdom, Asylum Information Database, edited by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, November 2015.

[121] UN Committee against Torture, Concluding Observations on the Fifth Periodic Report of the United Kingdom, Adopted by the Committee at its Fiftieth Session (6-31 May 2013).

[122] Detention Action, The State of Detention: Immigration Detention in the UK in 2014, October 2014, http://detentionaction.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/The.State_.of_.Detention.pdf.

[123] UK Visas and Immigration, Detention Rule 35 Process, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/257437/rule35reports.pdf.

[124] HM Inspectorate of Prisons, People in Prison: Immigration Detainees, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, November 2015, https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2015/11/HMIP-Immigration-detainees-findings-paper-web-2015.pdf.

[125] HM Inspectorate of Prisons, People in Prison: Immigration Detainees, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, November 2015, https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2015/11/HMIP-Immigration-detainees-findings-paper-web-2015.pdf.

[126] Detention Action, The State of Detention: Immigration Detention in the UK in 2014, October 2014, http://detentionaction.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/The.State_.of_.Detention.pdf.

[127] Medical Justice, Mental Health in Immigration Detention Action Group: Initial Report 2013, http://www.medicaljustice.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Mental-Health-in-Immigration-Detention-Working-Group.pdf.

[128] UK Border Agency, Detention Centre Rule 35 Audit, 4 February 2011, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/257174/det-centre-rule-35-audit.pdf.

[129] https://detentioninquiry.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/immigration-detention-inquiry-report.pdf

[130] Bail for Immigration Detainees, Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Experiences of Immigration Detention in the UK, July 2009, http://www.biduk.org/163/bid-research-reports/out-of-sight-out-of-mind-experiences-of-immigration-detention-in-the-uk.html.

[131] Gina Clayton, Textbook on Immigration and Asylum Law, 2008, Oxford University Press.

[132] Birnberg Peirce & Partners, Medical Justice and the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns, Outsourcing Abuse: The Use and Misuse of State-Sanctioned Force During the Detention and Removal of Asylum Seekers, 14 July 2008, http://www.medicaljustice.org.uk/content/view/411/88/.

[133] Nicholas Gill, Longing for Stillness: The Forced Movement of Asylum Seekers, M/C Journal, Vol 12, No 1, 2009, http://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/viewArticle/123.

[134] London Detainee Support Group, Detained Lives: The Real Cost of Indefinite Immigration Detention, January 2009, http://www.detainedlives.org/wp-content/uploads/detainedlives.pdf.

[135] Stephanie J. Silverman & Ruchi Hajela, Briefing: Immigration Detention in the UK, The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, 6 February 2015.

[136] Stephen Shaw, Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons: A Report to the Home Office by Stephen Shaw, January 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.pdf.

[137] London Detainee Support Group, Detained Lives: The Real Cost of Indefinite Immigration Detention, January 2009, http://www.detainedlives.org/wp-content/uploads/detainedlives.pdf.

[138] Bail for Immigration Detainees, Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Experiences of Immigration Detention in the UK, July 2009, http://www.biduk.org/163/bid-research-reports/out-of-sight-out-of-mind-experiences-of-immigration-detention-in-the-uk.html.

[139] Christine Bacon, RSC Working Paper No. 27: The Evolution of Immigration Detention in the UK: The Involvement of Private Prison Companies, Working Paper Series, Refugee Studies Centre, Department of International Development, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford, September 2005.

[140] Stephen Shaw, Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons: A Report to the Home Office by Stephen Shaw, January 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.pdf.

[141] Gill Plimmer, Outsourcers Running UK Immigration Centres Put to the Test, Financial Times, 9 August 2015, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/97e025d6-3128-11e5-91ac-a5e17d9b4cff.html#axzz48ASAZyf0.

[142] Birnberg Peirce & Partners, Medical Justice and the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns, Outsourcing Abuse: The Use and Misuse of State-Sanctioned Force During the Detention and Removal of Asylum Seekers, 14 July 2008, http://www.medicaljustice.org.uk/content/view/411/88/.

[143] Deborah Coles, Emma Ginn, Adalberto Miranda, Harriet Wistrich, Victoria Brittain, Liz Fekete, Frances Webber, Herman Ouseley, David Edgar, Dr Richard Stone, David Lammy MP, Tragedy of Mubenga, Letter to The Guardian, 12 November 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/nov/12/tragedy-of-mubenga.

[144] Matthew Taylor & Paul Lewis, UN Asked to Investigate Death of Angolan Deportee Jimmy Mubenga, The Guardian, 29 April 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/apr/29/jimmy-mubenga-campaign-un-investigation.

[145] The Daily Mail, “Three G4S guards CLEARED of killing Angolan deportee by restraining him on a plane with banned ‘carpet karaoke’ technique that blocked his breathing for 36 minutes,” 16 December 2014.

[146] OpenDemoscracy, "The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told,” 17 December 2014, https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told.

[147] Mark Scott & Harriet Wistrich, ID and Others and Unlawful Detention: The Issues Explained, Legal Action, September 2005.

[148] Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, Timeline—Immigration Detention, http://www.bhattmurphy.co.uk/bhatt-murphy-89.html.

[149] Christine Bacon, RSC Working Paper No. 27: The Evolution of Immigration Detention in the UK: The Involvement of Private Prison Companies, Working Paper Series, Refugee Studies Centre, Department of International Development, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford, September 2005.

[150] UK Border Agency, Detention Services Operating Standards Manual for Immigration Service Removal Centres, January 2005, http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/managingourborders/immigrationremovalcentres/operatingstandards/operatingstandards_manual.pdf?view=Binary.

[151] Jennifer Tighe, The Disastrous Outsourcing of Immigrant Housing in the UK, Verso Books – Blog, 18 November 2015, http://www.versobooks.com/blogs/2348-the-disastrous-outsourcing-of-immigrant-housing-in-the-uk-antony-lowenstein.

[152] The Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT) requires Member States to designate a “national preventive mechanism” (NPM) to carry out visits to places of detention, to monitor the treatment of and conditions for detainees, and to make recommendations regarding the prevention of ill-treatment.

[153] Independent Monitoring Boards, Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Board for Lindholme Immigration Removal Centre, 2010, http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110206195651/http://www.imb.gov.uk/reports/Lindholme_IRC_2009-2010.pdf.

[154] Short-term facilities that are used for less than 48 hours are generally not included in GDP data unless there are reports indicating that the facilities have been used for longer periods. Thus, for instance, while a holding room at Dover dock is one of the busiest immigration custodial sites in the UK, according to the 2016 “Shaw Review,” an “evaluation of the detention log for May 2015 revealed that a third of those detained that month had been in the facility for more than 24 hours, with 28 of those detained for more than 36 hours.” Thus, the facility is not included as part of the GDP’s list of immigration-related detention facilities.

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[155] Christine Bacon, RSC Working Paper No. 27: The Evolution of Immigration Detention in the UK: The Involvement of Private Prison Companies, Working Paper Series, Refugee Studies Centre, Department of International Development, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford, September 2005.

[156] Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees, Immigration Detention: Size of the Detention Estate, 15 June 2011, http://www.aviddetention.org.uk/.

[157] Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees, What is Immigration Detention?, 2015, http://www.aviddetention.org.uk/immigration-detention/what-immigration-detention.

[158] HM Inspectorate of Prisons, People in Prison: Immigration Detainees, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, November 2015, https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2015/11/HMIP-Immigration-detainees-findings-paper-web-2015.pdf..

[159] UK Secretary of State, The Immigration (Places of Detention) Direction 2014 (No. 2), 28 July 2014, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/338585/detention_direction-2014-07-23.pdf.

[160] Stephen Shaw, Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons: A Report to the Home Office by Stephen Shaw, January 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.pdf; Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees, IRCs and STHFs, 2015, http://www.aviddetention.org.uk/immigration-detention/find-local-visitor-groups-or-immigration-removal-centers/list-detention.

[161] Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees, IRCs and STHFs, http://www.aviddetention.org.uk/immigration-detention/find-local-visitor-groups-or-immigration-removal-centers/list-detention.

[162] Stephen Shaw, Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons: A Report to the Home Office by Stephen Shaw, January 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.pdf.

[163] Stephen Shaw, Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons: A Report to the Home Office by Stephen Shaw, January 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.pdf.

[164] Stephen Shaw, Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons: A Report to the Home Office by Stephen Shaw, January 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.pdf; Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees, IRCs and STHFs, 2015, http://www.aviddetention.org.uk/immigration-detention/find-local-visitor-groups-or-immigration-removal-centers/list-detention.

[165] HM Inspectorate of Prisons, A Review of Short-Term Holding Facilities Inspections, http://www.justice.gov.uk/inspectorates/hmi-prisons/docs/STHF_review_Dec_2010_-_FINAL.pdf.

[166] HM Inspectorate of Prisons,. A Review of Short-Term Holding Facilities Inspections, http://www.justice.gov.uk/inspectorates/hmi-prisons/docs/STHF_review_Dec_2010_-_FINAL.pdf.

[167] Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees, IRCs and STHFs, http://www.aviddetention.org.uk/immigration-detention/find-local-visitor-groups-or-immigration-removal-centers/list-detention.

[168] HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Report on an Unannounced Inspection of the Short-Term Holding Facility at Birmingham Airport, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, 30 November 2015, https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2016/04/2015-BIRMINGHAM-AIRPORT-final-report.pdf; HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Report on an Unannounced Inspection of the Short-Term Holding Facility at London City Airport, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, 11 February 2015, https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2015/09/London-City-Airport-2015.pdf; HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Report on an Unannounced Inspection of the Short-Term Holding Facility at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, 12 May 2015, https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2015/09/2015-HEATHROW-Terminal-5-Web-2015-1.pdf.

[169] UK Secretary of State, The Immigration (Places of Detention) Direction 2014 (No. 2), 28 July 2014, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/338585/detention_direction-2014-07-23.pdf.

[170] United Kingdom, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 40 of the Convention, Seventh Periodic Reports of States Parties due in July 2012, Human Rights Committee; Detention Action, The State of Detention: Immigration Detention in the UK in 2014, October 2014, http://detentionaction.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/The.State_.of_.Detention.pdf.

[171] HM Inspectorate of Prisons, People in Prison: Immigration Detainees, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, November 2015, https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2015/11/HMIP-Immigration-detainees-findings-paper-web-2015.pdf.

[172] Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees, Detention in Prison, 2015, http://www.aviddetention.org.uk/immigration-detention/detention-prison.

[173] HM Inspectorate of Prisons, People in Prison: Immigration Detainees, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, November 2015, https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2015/11/HMIP-Immigration-detainees-findings-paper-web-2015.pdf.

[174] HM Inspectorate of Prisons, People in Prison: Immigration Detainees, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, November 2015, https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2015/11/HMIP-Immigration-detainees-findings-paper-web-2015.pdf.

[175] Silverman, Stephanie J. 2011a. “Immigration Detention in the UK”. The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford. 8 March 2011.http://www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/briefings/immigration-detention-uk(accessed 17 May 2011).

[176] Mary Bosworth, Perrie Lectures 2008: Foreign Nationals in Prison and Detention, Prison Service Journal, Issue 180.

[177] The Migration Observatory, Deportations, Removals and Voluntary Departures from the UK, 19 August 2016, http://www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/resources/briefings/deportations-removals-and-voluntary-departures-from-the-uk/.

[178] UK Border Agency, New Family Returns Process Begins, 28 February 2011, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-family-returns-process-begins.

[179] Isra Hussain, (Freedom of Information Team, UKBA), 2011, Freedom of Information Request ref : 17978, 31 March 2011, http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/64249/response/163683/attach/2/FOI%2017978%20AE.pdf; BBC News, Glasgow Offers Alternative to Child Detention, 7 August 2010, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-10903378.

[180] Immigration Enforcement, Guidance: Cedars Pre-Departure Accommodation Information, 28 February 2014, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-cedars-pre-departure-accommodation/cedars-pre-departure-accommodation-information.

[181] Stephen Shaw, Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons: A Report to the Home Office by Stephen Shaw, January 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.pdf; Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees, IRCs and STHFs, 2015, http://www.aviddetention.org.uk/immigration-detention/find-local-visitor-groups-or-immigration-removal-centers/list-detention.

[182] Bwalya Kankulu (UK Home Office), The Use of Detention and Alternatives to Detention in the Context of Immigration Policies, National Contribution from the United Kingdom for Synthesis Report for European Migration Network Focused Study, UK Home Office, October 2014, http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/networks/european_migration_network/reports/docs/emn-studies/irregular-migration/28a_uk_use_of_detention_study_en_final.pdf.

[183] Stephen Shaw, Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons: A Report to the Home Office by Stephen Shaw, January 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.pdf; Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees, IRCs and STHFs, 2015, http://www.aviddetention.org.uk/immigration-detention/find-local-visitor-groups-or-immigration-removal-centers/list-detention.

[184] Hindpal Singh Bhui, “The changing approach to child detention and its implications for immigration detention in the UK,” Prison Service Journal, January 2013, https://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/sites/crimeandjustice.org.uk/files/PSJ%20January%202013%20No.%20205.pdf.

[185] Immigration Enforcement, Guidance: Cedars Pre-Departure Accommodation Information, 28 February 2014, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-cedars-pre-departure-accommodation/cedars-pre-departure-accommodation-information.

[186] Stephen Shaw, Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons: A Report to the Home Office by Stephen Shaw, January 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.pdf; Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees, IRCs and STHFs, 2015, http://www.aviddetention.org.uk/immigration-detention/find-local-visitor-groups-or-immigration-removal-centers/list-detention.

[187] David Barrett, Asylum Centre Costs More than World’s Most Exclusive Hotels, The Telegraph, 18 January 2016, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/12106353/Asylum-centre-costs-more-than-worlds-most-exclusive-hotels.html.

[188] Stephen Shaw, Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons: A Report to the Home Office by Stephen Shaw, January 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.pdf; Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees, IRCs and STHFs, 2015, http://www.aviddetention.org.uk/immigration-detention/find-local-visitor-groups-or-immigration-removal-centers/list-detention.

[189] Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID), Comment- closure of Cedars removal centre, 22 July 2016, http://www.biduk.org/comment-%E2%80%93-closure-cedars-removal-centre-

[190] Simon Parker, The UK Continues to Detain Children, A Year after the Coalition's Pledge to End It, Open Democracy, 11 May 2011, http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/simon-parker/uk-continues-to-detain-children-year-after-coalitions-pledge-to-end-it.

[191] Stephen Shaw, Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons: A Report to the Home Office by Stephen Shaw, January 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.pdf; HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Report on an Unannounced Inspection of Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, 13 April-1 May 2015, http://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2015/08/Yarls-Wood-web-2015.pdf.

IMMIGRATION AND DETENTION-RELATED STATISTICS

Total number of immigration detainees by year
23,970
2020
26,172
2019
29,299
2018
31,908
2017
32,526
2016
32,466
2015
30,365
2014
30,418
2013
29,000
2012
26,000
2010
28,001
2009
Number of immigration detainees on a given day
368
2020
736
2020
1,200
2020
1,839
2019
Number of detained asylum seekers
13,636
2014
13,161
2012
Total number of detained minors
63
2018
42
2017
110
2015
144
2014
228
2013
242
2012
127
2011
400
2010
1,000
2009
1,119
2009
Number of apprehensions of non-citizens
27,830
2018
65,365
2015
57,415
2013
49,365
2012
Immigration detainees as a percentage of total international migrant population
0.38
2015
0.39
2013
0.34
2010
Estimated total immigration detention capacity
4,270
2015
3,275 - 4,500
2013
250
1993
Number of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
10
2016
12
2014
Estimated capacity of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
3,915
2015
3,500
2013
2,665
2009
250
1993
Number of persons removed/returned (voluntary returns and deportations)
34,930
2018
40,896
2015
49,920
2014
54,960
2013
54,180
2012
Number of deportations/forced returns only
6,778
2020
8,637
2019
Percentage of persons removed in relation to total number of people placed in removal procedures
76.4
2014
95.7
2013
Criminal prison population
85,356
2017
94,865
2014
94,136
2013
Percentage of foreign prisoners
11.9
2016
11.6
2014
Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)
145
2017
Population
67,900,000
2020
64,716,000
2015
62,800,000
2012
International migrants
9,552,110
2019
8,543,000
2015
7,824,100
2013
7,605,000
2010
International migrants as a percentage of the population
13.2
2015
12.4
2013
Estimated number of undocumented migrants
417,000 - 863,000
2009
524,000 - 947,000
2007
Refugees
126,720
2018
121,837
2017
118,913
2016
117,234
2015
126,055
2014
149,765
2012
Ratio of refugees per 1000 inhabitants
1.83
2016
1.82
2014
2.41
2012
3.1
2011
Total number of new asylum applications
54,072
2019
50,961
2016
38,878
2015
32,344
2014
37,066
2012
Refugee recognition rate
30
2012
33
2011
28
2010
28
2009
Stateless persons
125
2018
97
2017
64
2016
205
2014
205
2012
Top nationalities of detainees
Number of persons granted alternatives to immigration detention
Number of detained unaccompanied minors
Number of detained accompanied minors
Number of detained stateless persons
Number of dedicated medium-term immigration detention centres
Number of immigration offices
Number of transit facilities
Number of criminal facilities
Number of ad hoc facilities

SOCIO-ECONOMIC INDICATORS

Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD)
46,332
2014
39,351
2013
38,514
2012
Remittances to the country
1,839,000
2015
8,267
2011
Remittances from the country
3,439
2010
Unemployment Rate
2014
2009
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in millions USD)
13,892
2012
13,832
2011
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)
14 (Very high)
2014
26 (Very high)
2012
Pew Global Attitudes Poll on Immigration
75
2007
Immigration Index Score
12
2011
World Bank Rule of Law Index
93 (-0.7)
2012
93 (-0.8)
2011
94 (-0.8)
2010
Domestic Opinion Polls on Immigration
Approximately ¾ of people in Britain favour reducing immigration. Large majorities in Britain have been opposed to immigration since at least the 1960s. Immigration is currently highly salient: over the past 15 years it has become one of the most commonly chosen 'most important issues'.
2014
Unemployment rate amongst migrants
Detention for deterrence

DOMESTIC LAWS AND POLICIES

Legal tradition
Common law
Core pieces of national legislation
Immigration Act 1971, as amended by Immigration Act 2016 (1971) 2016
1971
Additional legislation
Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, as amended (2002) 2012
2002
Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, as amended (2009) 2011
2009
Human Rights Act,1998, as amended (1998) 2005
1998
Habeas Corpus Act 1679, as amended () 2005
Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, as amended (1999) 2004
1999
Regulations, standards, guidelines
Immigration Rules (2014)
2014
UK Visas and Immigration Enforcement instructions and guidance (2014)
2014
Detention Service Order 07/2013 Welfare Provision In Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs) (2013)
2013
Prison Service Instruction 52/2011 Immigration, Repatriation and Removal Services (2011)
2011
Immigration-status-related grounds
Detention to effect removal
2014
Detention to establish/verify identity and nationality
2014
Detention for unauthorised entry or stay
2014
Detention for failing to respect non-custodial measures
2014
Detention for unauthorized stay resulting from criminal conviction
2013
Does the country provide specific criminal penalties for immigration-related violations?
Yes (Yes)
2014
Grounds for criminal immigration-related detention/incarceration and maximum potential duration of incarceration
Unauthorized entry (180)
2014
Maximum length for administrative immigration detention in law.
No Limit
2016
No Limit
2014
Longest recorded instance of immigration detention.
1825
2016
1460
2014
Provision of basic procedural standards
Right to legal counsel () Yes
2020
Access to consular assistance (Yes)
2013
Independent review of detention (Yes)
2012
Types of non-custodial measures
Designated non-secure housing (Yes) Yes
2020
Designated non-secure housing (Yes) infrequently
2015
Supervised release and/or reporting (Yes) infrequently
2014
Registration (deposit of documents) (Yes) infrequently
2014
Release on bail (Yes) infrequently
2014
Electronic monitoring (Yes) infrequently
2014
Is the detention of vulnerable persons provided in law? Are they detained in practice?
Accompanied minors () No
2016
Pregnant women (Not mentioned) Yes
2016
Unaccompanied minors (Provided) Yes
2016
Persons with disabilities () Yes
2014
Victims of trafficking () Yes
2013
Stateless persons () Yes
2011
Expedited/fast track removal
No
2016
Yes
2014
Re-entry ban
Yes
2014
Constitutional guarantees?
Non-immigration-status-related grounds providing for administrative detention in immigration legislation.
Has the country decriminalized immigration-related violations?
Maximum length of time in custody prior to issuance of a detention order
Average length of detention
Maximum length of detention for asylum-seekers
Maximum length of detention for persons detained upon arrival at ports of entry
Impact of alternatives
Mandatory detention

INTERNATIONAL LAW

International treaty reservations
Reservation Year
Observation Date
CRC Article 37 1991
1991
1991
ICCPR Article 10 1976
1976
1976
Individual complaints procedure
Acceptance Year
CRPD, Optional Protocol to o the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2009
2009
CEDAW, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 1999 2004
2004
Ratio of complaints procedures accepted
Observation Date
2/6
Relevant recommendations issued by treaty bodies
Recommendation Year
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination § 39. Recalling its general recommendation No. 30 (2004) on discrimination against non-citizens, the Committee recommends that the State party establish a statutory time limit on the duration of immigration detention and ensure that detention is used as a measure of last resort, and take further steps to end the immigration detention of children. The State party should also ensure that individuals who are held in immigration detention facilities have effective access to justice, including legal aid. 2016
2016
Committee on the Rights of the Child §77. […]; (d) Cease the detention of asylum-seeking and migrant children; […] 2016
2016
Human Rights Committee (a) Establish a statutory time limit on the duration of immigration detention and ensure that detention is a measure of last resort and is justified as reasonable, necessary and proportionate in the light of the relevant circumstances; (b) Ensure that reforms to the detained fast track system are fully compliant with the State party’s obligations under the Covenant. It should also ensure that the system protects vulnerable persons, and provides for effective safeguards against arbitrariness and for effective access to justice, including to legal aid. 2015
2015
Committee against Torture (a) Ensure that detention is used only as a last resort, in accordance with the requirements of international law, and not for administrative convenience; (b) Take necessary measures to ensure that vulnerable people and torture survivors are not routed into the Detained Fast Track System, including by: (i) reviewing the screening process for administrative detention of asylum seekers upon entry; (ii) lowering the evidential threshold for torture survivors; (iii) conducting an immediate independent review of the application of Rule 35 of the Detention Centre Rules in immigration detention, in line with the Home Affairs Committee’s recommendation and ensure that similar rules apply to short-term holding facilities and (iv) amending the 2010 United Kingdom Border Agency, Enforcement Instructions and Guidance, which allows for the detention of people with mental illness unless their mental illness is so serious that it cannot be managed in detention; (c) Introduce a limit for immigration detention and take all necessary steps to prevent cases of de facto indefinite detention 2013
2013
Committee against Torture

(a) Ensure that detention is used only as a last resort, in accordance with the requirements of international law, and not for administrative convenience; (b)Take necessary measures to ensure that vulnerable people and torture survivors are not routed into the Detained Fast Track System, including by: (i) reviewing the screening process for administrative detention of asylum seekers upon entry; (ii) lowering the evidential threshold for torture survivors; (iii) conducting an immediate independent review of the application of Rule 35 of the Detention Centre Rules in immigration detention, in line with the Home Affairs Committee’s recommendation and ensure that similar rules apply to short-term holding facilities and (iv) amending the 2010 United Kingdom Border Agency, Enforcement Instructions and Guidance, which allows for the detention of people with mental illness unless their mental illness is so serious that it cannot be managed in detention; (c) Introduce a limit for immigration detention and take all necessary steps to prevent cases of de facto indefinite detention.

2013
2013
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

16) Remove the discretionary powers granted to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) to discriminate at border posts among those entering the territory of the State party.

2011
2011
Committee on the Rights of the Child

7) • Intensify its efforts to ensure that detention of asylum-seeking and migrant children is always used as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time, in compliance with article 37 (b) of the Convention • Ensure that the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) appoints specially-trained staff to conduct screening interviews of children • Consider the appointment of guardians for unaccompanied asylum-seekers and migrant children; • Provide disaggregated statistical data in its next report on the number of children seeking asylum, including those whose age is disputed • Give the benefit of the doubt in age-disputed cases of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum, and seek experts’ guidance on how to determine age • Ensure that when the return of children occurs, this happens with adequate safeguards, including an independent assessment of the conditions upon return, including family environment • Consider amending section 2 of the 2004 Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants etc.) Act to allow for a guaranteed defence for unaccompanied children who enter the United Kingdom without valid immigration documents.

2008
2008
Human Rights Committee

21) • Review detention policy with regard to asylum-seekers, especially children • Take immediate and effective measures to ensure that all asylum-seekers who are detained pending deportation are held in centres specifically designed for that purpose • Consider alternatives to detention • End the detention of asylum-seekers in prisons • Ensure that asylum-seekers have full access to early and free legal representation so that their rights under the Covenant receive full protection • Provide appropriate detention facilities in Northern Ireland for persons facing deportation

2008
2008
Regional legal instruments
Year of Ratification (Treaty) / Transposed (Directive) / Adoption (Regulation)
ECHR, Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (commonly known as the European Convention on Human Rights 1951
1951
ECHRP1, Protocol 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights (amended by protocol 11) 1952
1952
ECPT, European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment 1988
1988
CATHB, Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings 2008
2008
Procedures Directive 2005
2005
Reception Directive 2003
2003
Regional judicial decisions on individual complaints
Observation Date
European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)

Saadi v The United Kingdom, 13229/03 violation of article 5(2)

2008
Recommendations issued by regional human rights mechanisms
Recommendation Year
Observation Date
European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT)

The CPT recommends: • foreign national prisoners, if they are not deported at the end of their sentence, be transferred immediately to a facility which can provide conditions of detention and a regime in line with their new status of immigration detainees. Further, it would like to receive a copy of the action plan. • the authorities remind staff in the Brook House and Colnbrook IRCs [immigration removal centres] that no more force than is strictly necessary should be used to bring agitated/recalcitrant detainees under control. Further, it should be made clear to staff members at the Induction and Reception Unit in Colnbrook that all detainees are to be treated with respect and that abusive language will not be tolerated. • the management of Colnbrook ensure that the necessary information is provided during the induction period in a language that detainees can understand. • the authorities ensure that detained persons are allowed a minimum of one hour outdoor exercise per day, including when accommodated in an induction and reception unit. • the presence of general practitioners be increased by the equivalent of a half-time post. The presence of the psychiatrist should be increased to offer a sufficient number of sessions to cover the existing needs. The presence of a dentist should also be increased. • the authorities ensure that the application of handcuffs to persons escorted out of an IRC is based upon a thorough individual risk assessment. • steps be taken to ensure that any detainee displaying a significant mental health disorder is transferred without delay to an appropriate psychiatric facility. • training should be provided on an ongoing basis, in particular as regards interacting with potentially vulnerable detainees. • The CPT calls upon the authorities to take steps to ensure that detained persons are not handcuffed during medical examinations and that all such examinations are conducted out of the hearing and - unless the doctor concerned requests otherwise in a particular case - out of the sight of escorting officers. In order to ensure that these requirements can be met at the same time as meeting security needs, provision should be made for a secure room in each hospital where examinations of detained persons regularly occur. • The CPT considers it inappropriate to use detained persons as interpreters apart from emergency situations.

2014
2014
2014
Bilateral/multilateral agreements linked to readmission
Year in Force
Observation Date
Albania 2005
2005
2017
Algeria 2007
2007
2017
Bulgaria 2004
2004
2017
Romania 2004
2004
2017
Switzerland 2006
2006
2017
South Korea 2012
2012
2017
Cape Verde (EU agreement) 2013
2013
2013
Georgia (EU agreement) 2011
2011
2011
Pakistan (EU agreement) 2010
2010
2010
Bosnia-Herzegovina (EU agreement) 2008
2008
2008
Macedonia (EU agreement) 2008
2008
2008
Moldova (EU agreement) 2008
2008
2008
Montenegro (EU agreement) 2008
2008
2008
Serbia (EU agreement) 2008
2008
2008
Ukraine (EU agreement) 2008
2008
2008
Russia (EU agreement) 2007
2007
2007
Albania (EU agreement) 2006
2006
2006
Sri Lanka (EU agreement) 2005
2005
2005
Hong Kong (EU agreement) 2004
2004
2004
Macao (EU agreement) 2004
2004
2004
Visits by special procedures of the Human Rights Council
Year of Visit
Observation Date
Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences 2014
2014
2014
Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants 2009
2009
2014
Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief 2007
2007
2014
Relevant recommendations by UN Special Procedures
Recommendation Year
Observation Date
Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants

> in relation to the administrative detention of migrants, the SR Migrants recommends that the Government: (a) consider the recommendations made by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in a 2009 report to the Human Rights Council,[58] particularly the call upon States to restrict the use of detention for immigration purposes, ensuring that it is a measure of last resort, only permissible for the shortest period of time and when no less restrictive measure is available and therefore, to use and make available alternative measures to detention both in law and in practice (b) take measures to review the implementation of national laws applicable to the detention of migrants to ensure that they are harmonized with international human rights norms that prohibit arbitrary detention and inhumane treatment (c) take all necessary steps to prevent cases of de facto indefinite detention and grant to migrants in detention all judicial guarantees, including keeping them informed of their cases’ status. > in relation to the protection of children and women in the context of migration, the SR Migrants recommends that the Government: (a) ensure the protection of migrant children accompanied by their families from detention and guarantee that migration laws include actual regulations that realize children’s rights and needs in such circumstances (b) determine the number of children subject to immigration control and detention (c) record the number of women entering and leaving immigration detention centres.

2010
2010
2010
Relevant recommendations of the UN Universal Periodic Review
Observation Date
Yes 2012
2017
Yes 2017
2017
Yes 2008
Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
Treaty bodies decisions on individual complaints
Regional treaty reservations

INSTITUTIONAL INDICATORS

Federal or centralized governing system
Centralized system
2014
Centralized or decentralized immigration authority
Centralized immigration authority
2014
Custodial authority
UK Visas and Immigration (Home Office) Interior or Home Affairs
2016
UK Visas and Immigration (Home Office) Interior or Home Affairs
2014
UK Border Agency (UKBA) (Home Office) Interior or Home Affairs
2013
UK Border Agency (UKBA) (Home Office) Interior or Home Affairs
2011
UK Visas and Immigration (Home Office) Interior or Home Affairs
2011
UK Border Agency (UKBA) (Home Office) Interior or Home Affairs
2010
Apprehending authorities
Immigration officer (Immigration agency) Ministry of Interior (Home Affairs)
2014
Detention Facility Management
G4S Group (Private For-Profit)
2016
Serco Ltd (Private For-Profit)
2016
Mitie PLC (Private For-Profit)
2016
GEO Group Ltd (Private For-Profit)
2016
National Offender Management Service (Governmental)
2016
Mitie PLC (Private For-Profit)
2015
HM Prison Service (Governmental)
2014
Serco (Private For-Profit)
2014
G4S Group (Private For-Profit)
2014
GEO Group Ltd (Private For-Profit)
2014
Mitie PLC (Private For-Profit)
2014
G4S Group (Private For-Profit)
2014
G4S Group (Private For-Profit)
2013
Serco Ltd (Private For-Profit)
2013
GEO Group Ltd (Private For-Profit)
2013
UK Border Agency (Governmental)
2013
HM Prison Service (Governmental)
2013
Tascor (Private For-Profit)
2013
Tascor (Private For-Profit)
2013
GEO Group Ltd (Private For-Profit)
2011
Serco Ltd (Private For-Profit)
2011
HM Prison Service (Governmental)
2011
G4S Group (Private For-Profit)
2011
Taylormade Security (Private For-Profit)
2011
Reliance (Private For-Profit)
2011
G4S Group (Private For-Profit)
2010
Formally designated detention estate?
Yes (Dedicated immigration detention facilities)
2014
Types of detention facilities used in practice
()
2016
()
2016
()
2015
()
2013
Authorized monitoring institutions
Equality and Human Rights Commission (National Human Rights Institution (or Ombudsperson) (NHRI))
2016
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) (OPCAT National Preventive Mechanism (NPM))
2014
Independent Monitoring Boards (IMBs) (OPCAT National Preventive Mechanism (NPM))
2014
Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees (AVID) (Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO))
2014
Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (Internal Inspection Agency (IIA))
2014
Prisons and Probation Ombudsman for England and Wales (National Human Rights Institution (or Ombudsperson) (NHRI))
2014
Is the national human rights institution (NHRI) recognized as independent?
Yes
2016
Does NHRI carry out visits?