Sajid Javid says indefinite immigration detention could end amid shakeup
The Government could stop locking up migrants indefinitely as part of a major shake-up of immigration detention, Sajid Javid said today.
The Home Secretary announced that he would look at how other countries impose time limits on detention in the wake of a new review into migrant jails.
And he said the department would launch a pilot scheme to move vulnerable women in Yarls Wood into the community - as part of a wider probe into detention alternatives.
Labour said the Government was “in a mess on its immigration detention policy” and was “pretending” to move forward.
A new Government review of detention centres by ex-prisons ombudsman Stephen Shaw offered more than 60 proposals to improve conditions in the controversial jails.
They included a review of staff numbers and new rules to stop vulnerable women, those with post-traumatic stress disorder, learning difficulties or other conditions being locked up.
Britain is the only EU country without a statutory time limit for the detention of immigrants - although the review did not make a specific recommendation on the issue.
In a statement to the Commons today, Mr Javid said he would look again at vulnerability reports and vowed to boost staff and pilot a system which could see bail granted to inmates sooner.
He also promised a new drive to improve “dignity in detention”, including the modernisation of toilet facilities and allowing some detainees to speak with their families on Skype as part of a pilot scheme.
And he said there would be an immediate end to packing three inmates into rooms designed for two.
Mr Javid said: “Detention is an important part of the immigration system - but it must be fair, dignified and protect the most vulnerable.
“We have made significant improvements to our approach in recent years, but it is clear we can go further.”
'IN A MESS'
But Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott fumed: “The Government is in a mess on its immigration detention policy.
“It hasn’t implemented properly the independent Shaw Review of 2 ½ years ago, and now wants to pretend it is moving forward after a further review.”
She said the harsh immigration detention regime was “all part of its hostile environment policy which led to the Windrush scandal”.
She added: “That scandal will continue to haunt this Government until those practices and that policy is ended.”