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Immigration Detention Centres

Volume 631: debated on Monday 20 November 2017

7. Whether her Department has commissioned research into alternatives to the use of immigration detention centres. (901911)

The alternative to detention is to encourage compliance, thereby leading to fewer illegal migrants in the first place and an increased use of voluntary returns. We will continue to work with partners to ensure we are always exploring the best practice and opportunities in this space.

Given that more than half of migrants leaving detention centres are released into the community and not removed, that monitoring illegal immigrants in the community costs more than 80% less than detention, and the sheer inhumanity of Britain’s immigration detention regime, many believe that it is now time to look at alternatives that actually work better in other European countries. Will the Minister agree to a pre-Christmas meeting with me and Detention Action, which has recently published detailed research on alternatives to detention?

I respectfully say to the right hon. Gentleman that I do not recognise what he outlined at all. In addition to the fact that we do not have indefinite detention in this country, our policy is that there is always a presumption of liberty and that individuals are detained for no longer than is necessary. In fact, to be clear, some 93% left detention within four months, but we are always looking at best practice.

I call Mr Christopher Chope—no, sorry, I will come to the hon. Gentleman. My anticipation got ahead of me.

It is completely wrong to say that we do not have indefinite detention. If someone is locked up and not given a timeframe for when they will be released, that is indefinite detention. Will the Minister not take on recommendations from Her Majesty’s inspectorate of prisons, the all-party parliamentary inquiry on detention, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Amnesty International and the Labour party for a statutory requirement of 28 days before release?

Detention is an important part of our process and of enabling returns, but we must be clear: to be lawful in this country, detention never lasts longer than is reasonably necessary to achieve the purpose for which it was authorised, which is to return somebody. That is the policy that we run.

Does the Minister agree that there are too many people in detention centres who should have already been deported? They should have been deported before the expiry of their prison sentences. Why is that not happening?

As always, my hon. Friend makes an important point. There are people in this country who are in prison and whom we would obviously like to return as foreign national offenders. I am pleased to say that we have returned a record number of people—almost 6,500—this year, but there is always more to do, and we will be very focused on doing just that.

My right hon. Friend is absolutely correct in saying that detention plays an important part in our immigration system, but, of course, while people are in detention, they should be free from abuse. There were some recent allegations of abuse at Brook House immigration detention centre in my constituency. What discussions has the Home Office had with the operator, G4S?

My hon. Friend makes a good point. Many of us—if not all of us—will have seen the unacceptable situation on the BBC “Panorama” programme. I met the operator of Brook House several times, including to look at the work that will be done to review what happened as well as to draw up an action plan. I will continue to keep my focus on that matter.

Last week, the chief inspector of prisons reported that the survivors of torture, rape and trafficking are still being locked up in Yarl’s Wood detention centre. That corroborates what was set out by Stephen Shaw and many others. Why is the Home Office failing to implement the policy for adults at risk in immigration detention and why are vulnerable people still being detained?

I can only repeat that we will detain people if we are looking to remove them and if we have a reasonable prospect of removing them. It is an important part of our process.