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HM Chief Inspector of Prisons joins call for a time limit on detention

18th August 2015

Rene Cassin

Nick Hardwick, the HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, has today found that Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre ‘is failing to meet the needs of the most vulnerable women.’

For the first time, the government-appointed inspector has joined calls from a parliamentary inquiry, which René Cassin collected and submitted evidence to, for a time limit on detention. He recommends that ‘a strict time limit must now be introduced on the length of time that anyone can be administratively detained.’

Hardwick was ‘particularly concerned about the length of time some women were detained and the detention of the most vulnerable women without clear reason. At the time of the inspection, 19 women had been held for over six months, and one for 17 months. The inspector recommended that pregnant women and those with serious mental health problems should only be detained ‘in the most exceptional circumstances.’

Hardwick concluded that ‘the main concerns we had in 2013 had not been resolved and there was greater evidence of the distress caused to vulnerable women by their detention.’

René Cassin continues to work as part of the Detention Forum in campaigning to an end on indefinite detention.

Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism responded to the report stating that:

‘It makes no moral, economic or political sense to detain vulnerable woman without a limit on time.  It encourages bureaucratic inertia; it is inordinately expensive; it portrays Britain as uncaring of refugees when our history demonstrates the opposite; but most importantly it fails the ‘decency’ test.  Many detainees have been the victims of violence,abuse and discrimination, and detention without time limit frequently exacerbates existing difficulties.  It is not the purpose of immigration detention to ‘punish or ‘deter’.  It is a matter of justice that vulnerable human beings ought be treated fairly and expeditiously and the current regime of detention without time limit achieves neither.  It is in the interests of nobody for this policy to be retained and I urge the Government to bring it to an end immediately.’

Tzelem, The Rabbinic call for Social and Economic justice responded:

‘Tzelem wish to state in the strongest possible terms their objection against the system of indefinite immigration detention in the UK.  The report by Nick Hardwick, which described Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre as a ‘place of national concern’, highlighted the expensive, cruel and ultimately pointless nature of indefinite detention.   The government must take action on the report’s call for a time limit for the administrative detention of migrants.  As Jews, with a long history of seeking refuge from persecution and crossing borders, we identify with and stand by those detained.  Setting a time limit is the first step on the way to allowing those detained to live their life with some dignity.’

Full report here: http://tinyurl.com/o92vxvg

Read more about this story here:

The Independent

The Evening Standard