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A new report has been launched today, highlighting the potential for community-based alternatives to reduce the detention of migrants in the UK.  ‘Without Detention – Opportunities for alternatives’ produced by Detention Action outlines how good practices across the UK and internationally could be built on to develop a systematic approach to migration governance, prioritising meaningful engagement with migrants and avoiding detention where possible.

The Government’s recent announcement of the closure of the Dungavel detention centre in Scotland highlighted the potential for a move away from detention.  The UK currently detains over 30,000 migrants a year, one of the largest detention figures in Europe.

Following on from scathing criticisms of the detention system and protocol in a recent Parliamentary Inquiry and the Shaw Review, this report recommends that alternatives to detention have the potential to lead to a long-term reduction in detention levels.

The Home Office has announced this week that Scotland’s only Immigration Removal Centre will close next year. The closure brings an end to the indefinite detention of immigrants in Scotland.  The UK is the only country in the EU that practices this kind of detention system.  Figures show that three quarters of people leaving Dungavel last year were released back into the community.

The Scottish Refugee Council (SRC) is now seeking an end to long-term immigration detention across the UK as a whole as well as an assurance from the Home Office that Dungavel detainees will not be moved into other detentions centres in the UK.  In a statement the SRC highlighted the impact on peoples’ lives of being held in short-term holding facilities and said that being detained without a release date causes extreme distress, loneliness and isolation as well as putting people’s health and well being at further risk.  The SRC argued that this situation will only worsen if people are moved away from their support networks.