• Hunger strike by detainees at Yarl’s Wood

    Over 100 detainees have been taking part in a hunger and work strike to call for changes to detention policy. This has highlighted a number of serious concerns, and I believe there must be an urgent review of the UK’s detention system, and an end to indefinite detention.

    The Government recently made a statement on this in the House of Commons, in response to an urgent parliamentary question. The Immigration Minister was pressed on detention and welfare policy concerns raised by the events at Yarl’s Wood, and she maintained that the dignity and welfare of all individuals detained is of upmost importance to the Government, and that any decision to detain is made on a case-by-case basis taking into account individual circumstances.

    However, I remain concerned that at Yarl’s Wood and in other institutions like it, already vulnerable people are, effectively, being held indefinitely despite the fact that the majority of them have committed no crime. The Government claims there is no indefinite immigration detention, but holding people for years on end without a release date amounts to exactly that in my view.

    I understand the Government expects a review by Stephen Shaw, the former prisons and probation ombudsman, to be published shortly. The review will report on progress made by the Government since his initial 2016 report on the welfare in detention of vulnerable persons.

    I can assure you that I will follow any developments and continue to press the Government to urgently review the detention system and end indefinite detention.