MPs demand overhaul of 'utterly failed' Home Office immigration detention system
The Home Office has “utterly failed” in almost every area of the immigration detention system, according to a hard-hitting report by MPs.
Members of the Home Affairs Committee slammed a string of "serious failings” in the department, including examples of people being wrongy detained, and vulnerable migrants being locked up unnecessarily.
The report also took aim at the “disgraceful abuse” of detainees and lengthy delays in asylum decision-making.
The committee called for the indefinite detention of migrants and refugees to be scrapped, and for a 28-day time limit to be introduced instead.
Committee chair Yvette Cooper said: “This inquiry has found serious problems in every part of the immigration detention system.
“Reform is needed urgently to ensure the immigration detention system is fair, works sensibly, is transparent and humane.
“The Home Office approach to immigration detention is careless and cavalier – including casework failures, insufficient judicial safeguards, and a general lack of humanity in the system.
“Making the wrong decision on detention can have a devastating impact on people’s lives – as we saw from the Windrush scandal, but also from many other cases we have seen.
“The lack of any time limit and of proper judicial safeguards has allowed the Home Office to drift and delay, leaving people stuck in detention for months who really shouldn’t be there at all.”
Despite the Home Office preventing unlawful detention and harm of vulnerable people, the committee found this was a regular practice, with victims of torture among those not being granted the necessary protection.
The committee called for initial detention decisions to be reviewed by a judge with 72 hours and for a “robust and effective” whistleblowing process to be introduced in all Immigration Removal Centres.
Committee member Stuart McDonald added: “In our report we call for urgent action to provide a system that has detention as an option of last resort, with effective safeguards to protect vulnerable people.
“The system as it stands has failed. We call on the Government to take immediate steps to make immigration detention decision making more humane and to implement safeguarding processes and policies that are fit for purpose.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: "Detention is an important part of our immigration system – but it must be fair, humane and used only when absolutely necessary.
"We do not detain people indefinitely, and the law does not allow it – most people detained under immigration powers spend only short periods in detention.
"As the Home Secretary made clear in our response to Stephen Shaw’s follow-up review of the welfare in detention of vulnerable people, we are committed to going further and faster with reforms to immigration detention and a comprehensive cross-government programme of work is in hand to deliver on that commitment.”