Close to 500 people tried to kill themselves in detention last year – the highest recorded number since the government started keep self-harm statistics in 2007. The newest records, obtained by advocacy group No Deportations, revealed that there were 446 suicide attempts.
This horrific statistic joins a long list illustrating the UK’s dysfunctional detention system, which the government unfortunately has yet to address. The UK’s immigration detention estate is the biggest in Europe, detaining around 2,500 to 3,500 migrants at any given time. The practice is an administrative one and not a criminal one. In other words, a migrant does not need to have committed an offence to be detained. There are 9 detention centres in the UK, of which their management is outsourced to private companies.
The system has been widely criticised for being unjust, with no limits to the period of time a person can be detained, as well as appalling environment inside detention centres being the most widely discussed issues, but are only the tip of the iceberg of problems. Outsourcing also makes it difficult to hold the government accountable to cases of abuse within the detention centres. No Deportations’ statistics also showed that over 1,000 detainees were on hunger strike in 2017, over their treatment in detention.
MRN holds the view that this system needs to be abolished. Immigration detention ties in with the government’s hostile environment policies which targets migrants, and the growing detention estate is proof of this injustice. We call for the government to take immediate action to ensure the safety of detainees in detention, process to release detained persons as soon as possible, and provide a plan to end the practice of immigration detention in the UK.
For more on the detention system and how does it compare with other systems across Europe, you may want to check Ella Firebrace’s post for MRN.