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Immigration: Detention

Volume 704: debated on Wednesday 15 October 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why the UK Border Agency recently announced plans to increase detention capacity by 60 per cent; and whether they will consult the Refugee Council and other relevant organisations in advance of any construction. [HL5376]

The recent announcement by the Minister for Borders and Immigration to expand the capacity of the immigration removal centre estate is to ensure that we have sufficient space to detain immigration offenders in order to effect their removal from the UK.

The UK Border Agency now removes an immigration offender every eight minutes. This includes failed asylum seekers, overstayers and a record number of foreign prisoners. Challenging targets have been set to increase the rate of removals, backed up with a doubling of enforcement resources.

Detention is necessary to ensure that immigration offenders do not abscond while the final stages of their removal are being arranged. It can also be used to “fast track” new asylum claims by housing applicants in centres with dedicated teams of case workers. This allows their cases to be decided quickly, leading either to faster integration in the UK for successful applicants or faster removal for those whose claims are refused.

We have no plans to consult the Refugee Council or other relevant organisations about the construction of any new site. However, such bodies are represented on the detention users group (DUG) that meets quarterly with UK Border Agency officials. DUG members are informed of developments on matters relating to immigration detention and they are able to raise issues of concern with the UK Border Agency.