Immigrants: Detainees

Home Office written question – answered on 20th July 2015.

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Photo of Lord Hylton Lord Hylton Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to limit the time that an individual may be held in immigration detention; and whether they plan to take steps to ensure that people who have suffered rape, sexual assault or torture are never detained.

Photo of Lord Bates Lord Bates The Minister of State, Home Department

It is not possible to detain indefinitely under Immigration powers. For detention to be lawful there must be a realistic prospect of removal in a reasonable timeframe. To highlight this, published statistics show the majority of people detained under immigration powers (63%) leave detention within 28 days, with the vast majority (93%) leaving detention within 4 months in 2014.

There are no plans to introduce a fixed time limit on immigration detention as what is a reasonable prospect of removal will be highly case specific. A fixed time limit may lead to the release of foreign national offenders even when deportation action is continuing. This House divided on the introduction of a fixed time limit during the passage of the Immigration Act 2014 and rejected such a limit by a majority of over 300.

Published policy on the use of immigration detention already states where there is independent evidence the individual is a victim of torture, that they should only be detained in very exceptional circumstances. This would include people who had suffered rape or sexual assault as an instrument of torture. Individuals who have been identified by the competent authorities as victims of trafficking, who may have suffered rape or sexual assault as an aspect of or as a result of being trafficked, are also only detained in very exceptional circumstances.

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