Published: 00:00, 03 March 2015
| Updated: 11:32, 03 March 2015
A Dover charity has welcomed a cross-party inquiry which says immigration detention should be capped at 28 days.
A report released on Tuesday follows an eight-month inquiry and is the first time parliamentarians have looked at the issue in-depth.
It says official guidance which states that detention should be used sparingly is not being followed, meaning too many people are unnecessarily detained.
Fraser Paterson, detention support manager at Samphire, Castle Street, Dover, said: “We welcome this cross-party inquiry into immigration detention in the UK. It has highlighted what we see every day in our work with those detained – that grave failings at the heart of our immigration system have allowed people to be detained without time limit. Further, that decision to detain is not made by a judge but by civil servants.”
Samphire supports detainees at Dover Immigration Centre and offers them support during and after being detained.
The UK is the only country in the European Union not to have an time limit on detention which means some people can remain at the centre for years.
Mr Paterson said: “Most people will be horrified that the minimum safeguards suggested in the report are not already in place.
“A 28 day limit on detention together with effective mechanisms to prevent the detention of survivors of torture and rape and other vulnerable people should be the minimum we expect in a country that prides itself on its respect for human rights.”
“Most people will be horrified that the minimum safeguards suggested in the report are not already in place." - Mr Paterson.
The report also states victims of rape, sexual violence and trafficking should not be detained and pregnant women should never be detained for immigration purposes.
The panel was also shocked by the personal testimony they heard of people suffering from mental health conditions who were detained for prolonged periods of time. It concludes that Home Office policy puts the health of detainees at serious risk.
It argues that depriving an individual of their liberty for the purposes of immigration detention should be an absolute last resort and only used to effect removal.
It also states that the lack of a time limit has significant mental health costs for detainees, as well as considerable financial costs to the taxpayer.