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Illegal Immigrants: EC Law

Volume 498: debated on Monday 2 November 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps his Department (a) has taken to reduce the length of time immigrants spend in administrative detention and (b) plans to take to implement the EU Returns Directive. (295628)

The decision on whether to detain or not is made very carefully on a case by case basis. While the UK Border Agency always aims to detain immigration offenders for the shortest period of time possible, the likely duration of detention is dependent on a range of factors, such as the relative difficulty of obtaining the appropriate travel document with which a person’s removal can be effected, or where there is reason to believe that the person will fail to comply with the conditions attached to a grant of temporary admission or release.

As an alternative to detention, the introduction of better contact management through the use of physical reporting at reporting centres and police stations together with the use of electronic monitoring (tagging and voice recognition) has allowed the UK Border Agency to maintain contact with individuals at all stages of the asylum process and with those who have breached immigration law.

The UK has not participated in and has no plans to implement the EU Returns Directive 2008/115/EC. We agree that a collective approach to removal can have advantages. However, we are not persuaded that this Directive delivers the strong returns regime that is required for dealing with irregular migration. Our current practices on the return of illegal third country nationals are broadly in line with the terms of the Directive, but we prefer to formulate our own policy, in line with our stated position on retaining control over conditions of entry and stay.