New legislation significantly curtails accommodation provision for those seeking release from immigration detention. The likely result is more and more people being held in immigration detention.
The fight to end to indefinite detention of immigrants pending their removal from the UK has been gathering momentum. There have been parliamentary debates and expert reports, all critical of the Home Office policy of what effectively involves ‘warehousing’ immigrants in cramped and often unsafe conditions with no end in sight.
While there is no legal maximum for how long someone can be held in immigration detention, the Home Office can only use their power to detain if they intend to remove the person and can do so ‘within a reasonable period’. If at the outset it is apparent that the person cannot be removed within a reasonable period they should not be detained at all. If it becomes apparent once detention has commenced that the person cannot be removed within a reasonable period, then the person should also be released. In addition, the Home Office should exercise appropriate diligence in their efforts to remove the person.
Despite these well-established restrictions on the power to detain, men and women are still held in detention centres for extended periods of time. In March 2018, a report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons of Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre found that 23 men had been held for over year, and one man had been held for four years.