Immigration Detention for Women

Home Department – in the House of Commons on 7th June 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Kate Osborne Kate Osborne Labour, Jarrow

What steps her Department is taking to reduce the use of immigration detention for women who have survived torture, rape or trafficking.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The use of detention, including the detention of women for immigration purposes, has reduced significantly over the past few years. In particular, for women who have survived torture, rape or trafficking it is used extremely sparingly, if ever. There is an adults-at-risk policy, which makes sure that people who have suffered in that way are detained only in extremely rare cases where the vulnerability is outweighed by very serious risk, for example, to public safety. Those exceptions are extremely rare.

Photo of Kate Osborne Kate Osborne Labour, Jarrow

The Minister says that these cases are extremely rare, but an immigration removal centre for women is set to open in the north-east on the former Medomsley detention centre site, despite, as he said, the Home Office previously committing to reducing its use of detention for women. Research shows that many detainees are survivors of torture, rape or trafficking, and detaining women in this way severely impacts on their mental health. Does he agree that reopening the Medomsley site should be reviewed and that immigration cases can be resolved more humanely and at less cost in the community?

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

First, I remind the hon. Lady again that the use of detention in general and for women in particular has reduced very significantly already over the past few years. Secondly, Hassockfield is replacing the Yarl’s Wood facility, which is being converted for mainly male use and, therefore, the number of female places for immigration detention as a result is going down dramatically. Thirdly, no, we are not going to review the use of Hassockfield—first, for the reason I have just mentioned, it actually represents a reduction in total numbers, and, secondly, because the adults-at-risk policy very actively, carefully and thoughtfully weighs up vulnerability against questions of detention. My hon. Friend Mr Holden has been fully engaged on this issue. The new centre will create local jobs, and, as I said, it will also represent a reduction in the women’s detention footprint.