THE holding of asylum-seekers in conditions more like prison,
with no obvious end to their detention, is causing stress and
insecurity, an official C of E submission has told the
In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into immigration
detention, the Mission and Public Affairs Council of the
Archbishops' Council says: "While not opposed to detention in
principle, we recognise its severe impact on people and families,
and want to ensure that conditions are humane. We believe that
Immigration Removal Centres [IRCs] should be as little as possible
It points out that accommodation built in the past ten years at
Harmondsworth, Colnbrook, and at Brook House, Gatwick, are "not
just prison-like, they look like a prison - harsh straight lines,
built to high-security standards, bare of anything to soften the
feel of the interior.
"It sounds like a prison - large echoing open wings. It feels
like a prison - the attempts to call the places where the detainees
sleep a 'room' is confounded by the fact that they are manifestly
cells. The toilets have no seats, just a solid steel bowl. . . That
toilet is inside the cell. In many cases, the detainees . . . have
to eat in those cells."
The submission also expresses concern that the Inspectorate of
Prisons no longer carries out a "safety survey" among detainees. It
says: "We normally think of safety in detention as a matter of not
fearing assault, intimidation, discrimination. However, what
detainees consistently reported as most likely to make them feel
unsafe was the lack of certainty about their case."
An automatic bail hearing after seven and then 35 days - as
provided for by law in 1999, but never brought into effect - would
help, the submission says. It also suggests that the lack of a
legal time-limit is adding to the backlog of cases. "There is
little pressure on case-workers to progress cases as quickly as
possible. The monthly letters sent to each detainee about their
continuing detention often seem to record little or no activity
since the previous month."
The submission insists that faith provision should continue as
it has in the past. "Faith is for many people held in detention a
very important part of their resources for enduring the
experience," it says.
Charity calls for end to child detention. A
report published this week stated that 203 immigrant children were
detained in England last year, including 70 aged under five.
The report, State of Children's Rights in England 2014,
from the charity Children's Rights Alliance for England, calls for
an end to the detention of children and the locking up of
It says that the Home Office is considering using physical force
to remove asylum-seeking and migrant children from the UK, in
breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The
Convention also states that children should never be separated from
parents for the purposes of immigration control.
The research and policy manager at the charity Bail for
Immigration Detainees, Sarah Campbell, said: "The psychological
distress experienced by children in immigration detention is well
documented. Children who are split from detained parents describe
losing weight, having nightmares, crying frequently, and becoming
"We urge the Government to implement this report's
recommendations without delay."