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Immigration: Detention Centres

Volume 709: debated on Tuesday 24 March 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how they will reduce the length of time that individuals are held in immigration and asylum detention centres; and how many people are detained for more than one year. [HL2150]

It is important that those who apply for asylum in the UK have their application processed as quickly, as possible and that is why we have set a target to conclude 90 per cent of asylum applications within six months by December 2011. In order to effect removal of those who have committed crimes in the UK at the earliest opportunity, the early removal scheme and the facilitated returns scheme are available specifically for foreign national prisoners who meet the qualifying criteria. Under these incentives removals take place considerably more quickly decreasing pressures on prisons and the UK Border Agency's detention estate.

Detention will always be for as short a time as possible and for no longer than is necessary. However, detention is often prolonged by individuals and families with no right to be here refusing to leave voluntarily and frustrating our attempts to remove them. They can voluntarily leave the UK at any point.

Published management information indicates that as at 27 December 2008, a total of 150 persons were recorded as being detained within the UK Border Agency's detention estate solely under Immigration Act powers for one year or more. This figure is rounded to the nearest five, has not been quality-assured under National Statistics protocols, is subject to change and should be treated as provisional. This is the latest date for which published statistics are available.

National statistics on persons detained solely under Immigration Act powers on a snapshot basis are published quarterly. This information is published in tables 9-11 of the Control of Immigration: Quarterly Statistical Summary, United Kingdom bulletins, which are available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office's Research, Development and Statistics website at

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why (a) Mr Ahmed Abu Bakar Hassam has been held at Oakington detention centre for 28 months; and (b) Mr Ali Saifi has been held at Colnbrook detention centre for 22 months. [HL2189]

Information contained in individual records held by the UK Border Agency is treated as being confidential and is not normally disclosed to third parties.

This is, of course, unless they are authorised representatives of the individual concerned. This is not a question of secrecy for its own sake but simply a matter of protecting the privacy of the individual.