Changing attitudes to, and improving the lives of, ex-detainees and migrant communities
Samphire welcomes Detention Inquiry call for time limit on detention

Samphire has welcomed the minimum safeguards suggested by the cross-party Detention Inquiry. This includes calls for a 28 day time limit on immigration detention and meaningful safeguards to prevent detention of survivors of rape and torture

© Fraser Paterson

© Fraser Paterson

Today the The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration published the report of their joint inquiry into the use of detention in the immigration system. The report itself can be found here. Samphire made a separate Detention Support submission and Ex-Detainee Project submission to the inquiry.

Recommending a change in culture as well as a time limit

The report highlights the fact that the UK is alone in Europe in having no limit on detention but goes further and pushes for “a radical move away from a focus on enforcement to one of engagement”. It also highlighted a key point that Samphire sees in its work – that minimum safeguards, including those preventing detention of survivors of torture and rape are not working. The inquiry’s key recommendations are:

  • There should be a time limit of 28 days  on the length of time anyone can be held in detention.
  • Detention is currently used disproportionately frequently, resulting in too many instances of detention. The presumption in theory and practice should be in favour of community-based resolutions and against detention.
  • Decisions to detain should be very rare and detention should be for the shortest possible time and only to effect removal.
  • The Government should learn from international best practice and introduce a much wider range of alternatives to detention than are currently used in the UK.

Minimum safeguards not in place

Fraser Paterson, Samphire’s Detention Support Project Manager responded to the inquiry’s report:

“We welcome this cross-party inquiry into immigration detention in the UK. It has highlighted what we see every day in our work with those detained – that grave failings at the heart of our immigration system have allowed people to be detained without time limit. Further, that decision to detain is not made by a judge but by civil servants.

Most people will be horrified that the minimum safeguards suggested in the report are not already in place. A 28 day limit on detention together with effective mechanisms to prevent the detention of survivors of torture and rape and other vulnerable people should be the minimum we expect in a country that prides itself on its respect for human rights.”

A moment for optimism

What is important is that these recommendations are acted on swiftly and will help bring some sense and humanity to our immigration system. However, whatever happens this is a landmark report that has illuminated an area we work in every day but which is hidden from most of the UK public.