Skip to main content

Immigrants: Detainees

Volume 502: debated on Tuesday 8 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make it his policy not to detain asylum seekers and immigrants whose deportation is not imminent and who are not considered to be a serious threat to society; and if he will make a statement. (303633)

Detention is an essential component in maintaining an effective immigration control. It is usually appropriate in the following circumstances: initially, while a person's identity or basis of claim is being established; where there are reasonable grounds for believing that a person will fail to comply with the conditions attached to the grant of temporary admission or release; as part of a fast-track asylum process; or to effect removal.

The decision to detain is made on case by case basis taking account of the individual circumstances in each case. Imminence of removal and risk of harm to the public are factors, among others, considered in reaching a decision.

Detention is kept to the minimum period necessary for the purpose for which it was authorised and is not unduly prolonged. Individuals may prolong their own detention by, for example, refusing to cooperate with the redocumentation process or by frustrating lawful attempts at removal. Detention in each individual case is subject to review at increasingly senior levels within the UK Border Agency to ensure that it only lasts as long as it continues to be justified and necessary.

We believe that the current policies support a requirement to enforce our immigration laws and we therefore have no intention of changing them at this time.