The British Medical Association (BMA) has called on the Home Office to look at alternatives to immigration and removal centres, with a view to eventually phasing them out.
In a new report, the BMA recommends a complete overhaul of the current system as concerns increase over the use of restraint in such facilities and the management of detainees’ mental health.
Asylum seekers and migrants may be detained in centres while their claims are dealt with or where why have been rejected, pending their removal from the country.
Last year, two-thirds of detainees were held for fewer than 29 days but there are currently 179 detainees across the UK who have been held for one to two years and a further 29 who have been detained for longer than this.
The BMA report states: “Where individuals are detained, there should be a clear limit on the length of time that they can be held in immigration detention, with a presumption that they are held for the shortest possible period.”
A plan to close Dungavel House, Scotland’s only detention centre, was shelved earlier this year after planning permission for a holding centre in Paisley was rejected.
Dr Peter Bennie, chair of BMA Scotland said: “Under the current system, we are seriously concerned about the health consequences that detention at centres like Dungavel can have.
“There is no doubt that people seeking asylum who are detained must have access to adequate care that addresses the range physical and mental healthcare needs that these patients might have.”
Read the report here.
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