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Examination of Witnesses

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 14th February 2019.

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Steve Valdez-Symonds:

It is wrong, firstly, to think of the case being determined within 28 days. I think you have got to think about the whole of the time in which you are talking about an applicant. It is also quite dangerous to think of applicants, too. People who are taken into detention include people who have been through a process and have been applicants and may still be applicants; they also include people who did not even know they had an issue with the immigration services. Think back to the Windrush scandal. People were picked up who were perfectly entitled to be here and had not had any thought that over the last several decades they had had any problem with the immigration system, and they found themselves in detention. There is a whole range of issues to consider in terms of what is going on here.

From our point of view, the straightforward point is that detention is supposed to be for two specific purposes only. The most important one is to effect a lawful removal. At the moment, we have large-scale routine use of a very extreme power. Going back to the first question, we have a system that clearly is not—if you want to use the word—robust enough to exercise the power fairly and sensibly, let alone humanely, for the thousands of people it is imposed on. If we had a system that was properly directed towards using such powers appropriately at the time that it was appropriate to use them, perhaps we would have a robust system. Perhaps many fewer people would end up being detained. Perhaps the smaller number of people who were detained would be those whom the system was lawfully seeking to remove and had some real potential of removing within what should be a very short period of time.