This briefing investigates the policy of detaining asylum seekers indefinitely in the UK – a practice that continues and shows no signs of being terminated by the Government. It explains how the UK is an anomaly for using such a system, despite strong evidence demonstrating that it is ineffectual, costly, and injurious to the mental health of detainees, and that Home Office guidance on the matter is not being followed. Some other issues surrounding detention are also considered, including a blanket exclusion for certain classifications of people who are most at risk, as well as alternatives to detention, such as those used favourably in Australia, the USA and Canada.
Consequently, to ensure individuals are treated with dignity and more humanely, the Labour Campaign for Human Rights recommends that:
- A 28-day time limit on detention for all asylum seekers should be introduced.
- All detention centres should have 24/7 access to a mental health response team. Moreover, if required healthcare is not available inside a detention centre, inmates should be released to access the care they need.
- All those identifying as LGBTI, as well as mothers with babies, should not be detained. Furthermore, the detention of children should be ended immediately.
- Alternatives to detention, in which asylum seekers are supported in the community, should be utilised much more frequently.