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Immigration: Detainees

Volume 691: debated on Friday 20 April 2007

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

How many asylum seekers are currently detained (a) in the immigration detention estate, and (b) in HM prisons; and what progress they have made in honouring commitments made in 1998 and 2002 to phase out the use of prison accommodation for asylum seekers. [HL2942]

As at 30 December 2006, there were 1,320 asylum applicants, including dependants, detained solely under Immigration Act powers. This figure is rounded to the nearest five and excludes persons detained in Prison Service establishments, police cells and those detained under both criminal and immigration powers.

As a result of a change in working practices in IND, statistics on persons detained in Prison Service establishments solely under Immigration Act powers have not been available since the second quarter of 2006. Currently and over forthcoming months, we are working on analysis of data sources held by IND and the National Offender Management Service to formulate a robust collation method for production of these statistics in future.

The routine use of Prison Service accommodation for detaining asylum seekers for immigration purposes ceased in January 2002. It was also made clear in 2002 that there would continue to be a need to use Prison Service accommodation for individual detainees where this was necessary for reasons of security or control. That position remains and where necessary it will apply to those who may have applied for asylum at some time, especially where an asylum seeker has committed a criminal offence and is subject to deportation action.

Statistics on the number of persons detained solely under Immigration Act powers on the last Saturday of each quarter is published in the quarterly asylum bulletins. The latest published information pertains to people detained as at 30 December 2006 and is published on the Home Office’s Research, Development and Statistics Directorate website at: