One year since Sir Stephen Shaw’s review of immigration detention – Detention Action comment

Yesterday (Tuesday 23 July 2019) the Home Office published a statement on immigration detention reform, with comments from the Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes. The statement marks a year since Sir Stephen Shaw published his highly critical review of welfare in immigration detention.

The statement follows a series of damaging reports published so far this year by the Home Affairs Select Committee, the Joint Committee on Human Rights and HM Inspector of Prisons, all of which condemned indefinite immigration detention and called for the immediate implementation of a time limit. The Home Affairs Select Committee in March of this year “found serious problems with almost every element of the immigration detention system.”

With indefinite immigration detention coming under increased scrutiny, urgent calls for the introduction of statutory safeguards such as strict criteria for detention and a 28-day time limit have gained widespread support across Parliament.

The Cross-Party Time Limit on Immigration Detention Amendment tabled to the Immigration and Social Security Coordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill is supported by over 80 MPs. This includes a significant number of Conservatives, such as David Davis, Andrew Mitchell, Caroline Spelman, Crispin Blunt, Dominic Grieve, Henry Smith, Maria Caulfield, Pauline Latham, Jeremy Lefrory and Steve Double. In addition, the amendment has received the support of the Labour, SNP, DUP, Liberal Democrat, Plaid Cymru, Independent Group for Change, and Green frontbenches, and several Independent MPs.

James Wilson, Acting Director of Detention Action, said:

“We welcome progress in reducing the detention estate, and the Minister’s commitment to ‘going further and faster in reforming immigration detention.’

“But the fact remains that, a year since Sir Stephen Shaw’s damning review of detention, the Government is still routinely locking up 25,000 people in hopelessly ineffective and needlessly expensive indefinite immigration detention every year.

“Urgent and widely-supported calls for a 28-day time limit and straightforward safeguards such as statutory criteria for detention have dominated the debate around immigration detention in the last year, but are conspicuously absent from the Minister’s comments. 

“With a new Prime Minister coming in to No.10, we hope for fresh thinking and a rejection of the failed policies of the past. Boris Johnson must listen to the experts, MPs from across Parliament and within the Conservative Party, and bring an end to indefinite immigration detention once and for all.”