‘The Home Office has shown a shockingly cavalier attitude in its approach to immigration detention and overseen serious failings in almost every area of the immigration detention process,’ a new report by the Home Affairs Committee has found.
The report, published today, finds that the Home Office has failed in its responsibility to oversee the safe and humane detention of individuals in the UK, that too often it does not follow its own policy and guidance, and that a series of safeguarding and case-working failures have led to people being wrongfully detained, held in immigration when they are vulnerable and unnecessarily detained for too long.
The Committee says that the power to detain is a necessary one but maintains that it should be used only if there are no other options, as a last resort prior to removal. The report also states that lengthy immigration detention is unnecessary, inhumane and causes harm.
The Committee’s inquiry identified problematic case-working inefficiencies – for example lengthy delays in asylum decisions, appeals and documentation, which unnecessarily prolong individuals’ detention. The inquiry found that Home Office policies which should prevent unlawful detention and harm of vulnerable people are regularly applied in such a way that the most vulnerable detainees, including victims of torture, are not being afforded the necessary protection.
The report finds that the abuse of detainees by some staff at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre is sadly not the first of its kind, and the Committee calls upon the Home Office to meet its obligations to the individuals it detains in Immigration Removal Centres, ensuring that safe and humane management, adequate staffing levels, access to high quality healthcare and effective whistleblowing procedures are in place.
The Committee calls for an end to indefinite detention and a maximum 28-day time limit and says the Home Office must do much more to ensure that detention is an option of last resort, as well as overhaul the Adults at Risk policy, and implement stronger judicial oversight and a more humane decision-making process for detention to ensure that vulnerable people are not being let down.