REACTION TO SHAW REVIEW ON IMMIGRATION DETENTION

We have always said that the scope of the Shaw Review was too limited, and should have been asked to look at the overall use and impact of detention and alternatives, including the use of detention for immigration purposes with no time limit.

Having said that we are pleased that so many of the recommendations are more far reaching than the scope defined.

We particularly welcome the many points made on the definition of vulnerability; the recommendations on detention impact of those who have mental health issues, are victims of torture, sexual violence, and the complete ban on detention of pregnant women. However we note with disappointment that the Government response still supports the detention of pregnant women.

We support a far reaching review of the detention estate, reflecting that detention should only ever be used as a last resort, and then for the minimum time necessary as already required in UNHCR and the Home Office’s own guidelines.

LD4SOS welcomes Shaw’s more forward looking recommendations. The introduction of an independent element into detention decision-making is long overdue especially in the case of section 35 cases where many bad decisions have been made in the past.

We are pleased that there are recommendations around the need to look at the use of alternatives to detention eg the Swedish model where a case manager works in the community with the asylum seeker throughout the process, with much better and humane results. Shaw’s recommendation that ‘much greater energy’ be applied to exploring alternatives to detention, including community support is in accord with the UNHCR `Beyond Detention’ initiative in which the Government is actively engaged.

Furthermore the report’s recommendation that legal safeguards need to be introduced to end  excessive lengths of detention  could be achieved by putting a legal maximum length of detention in place. It would end some charges of inhumanity in the UK asylum system, which have been internationally condemned.  We are disappointed that there is no minimum time limit for detention, and repeat our call for there to be a maximum of 28 days for any detention for immigration purposes.

In 2015 the UK celebrated the 600th anniversary of the Magna Carta but seems to have forgotten that one of its remaining clauses states that no one shall be imprisoned (detained) without full legal process and a fair trial by his/her peers. Because that injunction to behave well has been ignored over the past six centuries does not mean that our Government should continue to disregard it.

We believe, as we always have, that the detention estate should be managed by the public and not the commercial sector, with more rigorous and effective monitoring. This would reduce the pointless but commercially profitable movement of detainees between establishments, give the Government more control over the detention estate and make it easier for the Government to close IRCs when they become redundant.

Whatever conclusion is reached on the use of Cedars Pre Departure Centre, we are adamant that never, ever, again should any child be placed in a detention centre, and any pre departure arrangement must be for no longer than 72 hours, as at present.

We remain committed to asking parliament to enact the recommendations of the APPG on Immigration Detention.