This template letter, based on a briefing from the Detention Forum, can be used to raise the issue of immigration detention with your MP.  Remember, it’s best to send personalised letters to your MP – wherever possible using local, individual examples of the impact that immigration detention has – so feel free to add and amend to this letter!  You can use the text below, or download a copy of the letter here.

I am writing to you to express my concern over the government’s failure to act on its promises on immigration detention.

People can be detained by the administrative authority of the Home Office. There is no time limit on how long individuals can be detained under these powers. The decision to detain is an administrative process – it is not a judicial procedure.

In too many cases, Home Office practice does not reflect Home Office policy. People are detained for months, if not years, on end, and decisions to detain are frequently not taken as a last resort.

Calls for a time limit and detention reform have gained increasing momentum over the last few years, notably with the inquiry of the APPGs on Refugees and Migration into the use of immigration detention (2015).

The nine-month parliamentary inquiry resulted in a report calling for fundamental reform of the detention system, including:

  • there should be a maximum time limit of 28 days on the length of time anyone can be detained;
  • there should be a presumption in favour of community-based resolutions and against detention;
  • decisions to detain should be very rare and detention should be for the shortest possible time;
  • the Government should introduce a much wider range of alternatives to detention.

Subsequently, the first Shaw Review in 2016 and debates during the passage of the Immigration Act 2016 led the Government to make various promises and concessions, few of which have yet been implemented. Despite substantial public and political pressure and a ministerial commitment to reform, migrants held in immigration detention have seen little tangible change.

Home Office statistics on the use of detention (released in February 2018) showed that over 27,000 people had been detained in one year alone. At the end of 2017, one person had been detained under immigration powers for over four and a half years.

It is time to implement radical and fundamental change, to create a fair and humane migration governance system. The implementation of the key recommendations made by the 2015 cross-party inquiry would force the Home Office to rethink how they use immigration detention and will lead to a significant reduction in the scale and the length of detention.

I ask you to call on the Government to commit to:

  • the introduction of a 28 day time limit
  • much wider use of community based alternatives to detention
  • ending the detention of vulnerable people