Amnesty International’s new report on immigration detention highlights the long-term damage caused by the practice.
The 50-page report, ‘A Matter of Routine: The use of immigration detention in the UK’, shows how detention is being maintained as a matter of default and convenience, leading to significant harm to both detainees and their families.
With very few exceptions, immigration detainees are held without a statutory time limit, meaning that on entering detention they have no idea when they will be released. While for many, detention ultimately lasts at most a few weeks, others are held for many months and some for years. Most detainees are ultimately released back into the community.
However, Amnesty found a complacent approach to the use of detention powers, resulting in people being detained unnecessarily and then being kept in detention through often unjustifiable reasons. Little thought was being put into finding alternatives to detention.
This approach to detention powers, and the weakening of protection for detainees, allows detention to be used as a matter of routine. Essentially, if more detention centres are built, more people will be found to put in them.