To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the use of Immigration Removal Centres in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in particular (1) how many detainees have been released from detention since 23 March; (2) how many detainees remain in detention; (3) whether any asylum seekers have been placed in detention since 23 March, and if so how many; and (4) what measures have been taken to shield detainees and to maintain social distancing both for detainees and staff.
7 May 2020
The safety and health of those in immigration removal centres is of the utmost importance but we remain committed to removing foreign national offenders or those who violate our immigration rules. Detention plays a key role in securing our borders and maintaining effective immigration control.
There is a general presumption of liberty for all individuals. Detention is used only when necessary, and decisions to detain an individual are made on a case by case basis and are based on all of the information known at the time of the review. As circumstances of the case change, detention is reviewed in light of these changes and release may then become appropriate.
There is no-one currently detained and going through the Detained Asylum Casework process. The majority of asylum claims are processed in the non-detained system, with claimants living in the community. Only a minority of claimants are detained whilst their claim is considered and almost all of those who have their claim considered in detention only claim asylum after being detained for removal. Asylum claims in detention are considered in accordance with published detention guidance, incorporating the policy on safeguarding adults at risk.
The Home Office is following all Public Health England guidance and have robust contingency plans in place including measures such as protective isolation to minimise the risk of COVID-19 spreading in the immigration detention estate. Further measures including shielding, single occupancy rooms and the cessation of social visits have been introduced in line with the Government direction on social distancing.
The Home Office publishes data on people leaving and in detention in the ‘Immigration Statistics Quarterly Release’. Data on the number of people detained under immigration powers at the end of each quarter are published in table Det_D02 and of those leaving detention are published in table Det_D03 of the immigration detention detailed datasets.
Information on how to use the dataset can be found in the ‘Notes’ page of the workbook. The latest data relates to those in detention as at 31 December 2019. Additionally, the Home Office publishes a high-level overview of the data in the 'summary tables'. The ‘contents’ sheet contains an overview of all available data on detention.
Figures covering the first quarter of 2020, including those detained as at 31 March 2020 will be released on 21st May 2020. Information on future Home Office statistical release dates can be found in the ‘Research and statistics calendar’.