Immigration Detention and Family Reunion Campaign

Thank you for contacting me about asylum seekers, refugee resettlement and detention times.

Since 2015, the Government has resettled more than 25,000 vulnerable refugees in need of protection through our refugee resettlement schemes, with around half being children. For your interest, in the year ending March 2020, over 7,400 refugee family reunion visas were issued to partners and children of those previously granted asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK. This is 37% more than in the previous year.

The Prime Minister made clear the importance that the Government places on ensuring that unaccompanied children who are seeking international protection in an EU Member State can continue to be reunited with specified family members who are in the UK, as well as children in the UK with family in the EU, following the UK’s exit from the EU.

On the point about immigration detention times, Ministers have assured me that the Home Office will only detain people where it is absolutely necessary on a case by case basis and decisions are kept under constant review. 

For your interest, here is a Home Office fact sheet on immigration detention statistics. In summary:

  • 95% of individuals with no leave to remain in the UK are managed within the community rather than detained.
  • Most people detained under immigration powers spend only short periods in detention.
  • In the year ending December 2019, 74 per cent of individuals left detention within 28 days and, of these, 39 per cent were detained for 7 days or less. There were also fewer than half the number of individuals detained than in September 2017.
  • The immigration removal estate is currently almost 40% smaller than it was five years ago, and of significantly higher quality. We are detaining fewer people; have closed IRCs that were no longer fit for purpose; and have reduced occupancy levels in the other IRCs to ensure better staffing ratios.

I am informed that, in order for the detention of an individual to be lawful, there must be a realistic prospect of their removal within a reasonable timescale. We are held to account on this by the courts, and by a series of safeguards that ensure proper scrutiny of decisions to detain, and on-going detention.

During the pandemic, I welcome that PPE has been made available to contractor and healthcare staff when interacting with those detainees being held in isolation and those arriving at immigration removal centres are medically assessed by a nurse within two hours of arrival and by a doctor with 24 hours.

Thank you again for getting in touch with me on these issues.