Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Campaign response - End indefinite immigration detention/Compassion/Detention

Recently a number of constituents have written to me to ask if I would support a series of amendments to the Immigration and Social Security Bill to end the practice of detaining asylum seekers indefinitely.

I am glad to read this, as the ending of indefinite detention is an issue that I have been working with organisations such as Detention Action on and continue to take an interest in. Constituents may also recall that in my speech at the Second Reading of the Immigration Bill in 2019 I called on the Government to address this long overdue issue.

The UK is a unique case within Western Europe as there is currently no maximum time limit on how long an immigrant can remain in detention.

Not only does this policy at times jeopardise the rights of asylum seekers, there are significant costs incurred to the tax payer as a result. On average it costs over £30,000 to detain an individual for a year which is not an unusual length of time in the UK.

Immigration detention should be used only as an absolute last resort, and I will continue to use my influence as an MP to work with the Government in ensuring that our asylum and immigration policies are effective and robust in protecting our borders, while treating individuals fairly and lawfully – in this regard it should mean not detaining them for any longer than is necessary.

Under the present circumstances, my preferred outcome is that those in immigration detention should have their cases expedited by the Home Office. Some will have their decisions overturned while others, subject to immigration removal, may well need to be in more suitable accommodation arrangements so that are shielded from those who have COVID-19, before they can be returned to their country of origin.