Last month, the report of the parliamentary inquiry into immigration detention was published. After an eight month inquiry the panel, made up of MPs and peers of all parties, recommended that there should be a 28 day time limit on the length of time anyone can be held in immigration detention. They also called for a presumption in favour of community-based alternatives to detention. The full report is available here.
This week has seen the publication of all the major parties’ manifestos, so it’s a good opportunity to see what each party would do about indefinite detention:
There is no mention of detention in the Conservatives’ manifesto.
Theresa May did announce a review, led by Stephen Shaw, of detainees’ welfare and conditions in detention in February. She has also asked Shaw to consider the inquiry’s recommendations. Conservative panel member David Burrowes also wrote this piece for ConservativeHome.
The Greens say they would:
Ensure that no prospective immigrant is held in detention. As a matter of urgency, the administrative detention of children and pregnant women should end immediately.
This appears to suggest they would not use detention at all. It’s not clear if failed asylum seekers or foreign national offenders are covered by the term “prospective immigrant”.
Labour have pledged to end indefinite detention. Their manifesto states:
We will end the indefinite detention of people in the asylum and immigration system, ending detention for pregnant women and those who have been the victims of sexual abuse or trafficking.
This was announced by Yvette Cooper last month. The Guardian at the time reported that the time limit would not apply to “those who have committed criminal offences and were being deported because of their criminal behaviour, or those who posed a threat to UK national security or public safety.”
The Liberal Democrats say in their manifesto that they would ‘end unnecessary detention’:
Liberal Democrats would end indefinite detention for immigration purposes, and use community-based alternatives instead.
It’s right to deport people who don’t have the right to be in the UK, and sometimes that requires holding them temporarily in a detention centre first. But locking people up has gone too far. Routinely detaining immigrants and asylum seekers indefinitely is a waste of time, resources and taxpayers’ money, and has a terrible effect on the physical and mental health of those detained.
Scottish National Party
The SNP manifesto has not yet been published.