Immigrants: Detainees

Home Office written question – answered on 25th January 2016.

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Photo of Lord Patten Lord Patten Conservative

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to set a maximum limit on the length of time that an individual can be detained in immigration detention centres.

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

It is not possible to detain someone indefinitely under immigration powers. In order to detain an individual pending removal there must be a realistic prospect of removal in a reasonable timeframe.

Each case is determined on its own merits. The introduction of an arbitrary time limit could lead to the release of foreign criminals and illegal immigrants even when their removal is imminent.

Home Office guidance is clear that detention should be used sparingly, and for the shortest period reasonably necessary to achieve its purpose. Published statistics show that, in the year to September 2015, over 90 per cent of individuals leaving detention had been detained for no longer than four months.

The Home Secretary commissioned Stephen Shaw CBE, the former Prisons and Probation Ombudsman for England and Wales, to undertake an independent review of welfare in the immigration detention estate. His report and the Government’s response to the report were published on 14 January by means of a Written Ministerial Statement (WMS).

The Government’s response includes the implementation of a new approach to the case management of those who are detained, aligned with a new “adult at risk” policy to ensure more rigorous assessment of those entering detention through a new gate-keeping function, maintaining this rigour through the new removals plans process to maintain a strong focus on, and momentum towards, removal.

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