UK: Home Office ‘uses racial bias’ when detaining immigrants

Of note. Haven’t seen comparative Canadian analyses but may have missed:

Black people are detained significantly longer than white people inside the UK’s immigration detention system, prompting fresh claims of “institutional racism”.

Although the Home Office does not record ethnicity data for detainees, analysis of nationalities of those recently held within the immigration detention estate found that citizens from countries with predominantly black and brown populations are held for substantially longer periods than those from predominantly white countries.

New data, released by pressure group Detention Action, found that during 2019 90% of Australian nationals were released before spending 28 days in detention compared with 40% of Jamaican nationals and 60% of Nigerian nationals.

Bella Sankey, director of the group, said that the disparity indicated a racial bias in the approach of the Home Office. “Our immigration detention and deportation systems are institutionally racist,” she said. “Indefinite detention was invented as part of an explicit government effort to reduce black and brown migration to the UK.”

Sankey added: “In 2020 black people are detained in wildly disproportionate numbers and for longer periods than white people. We urgently need a universal time limit on detention to end this endemic dehumanisation.”

The UK is the only European country that does not impose a time limit, with some held for years before being released. A parliamentary committee is one of many groups demanding that ministers introduce a 28-day time limit on immigration detention.

The new analysis found that of 44 Canadians detained, 40 were released from immigration detention within seven days compared with 17 of 100 Zimbabweans.

The Home Office uses detention centres to hold people before they are deported for immigration offences or released into the community. Although they are meant to be used sparingly, around 24,000 people were held in detention centres last year.

In a report issued last Wednesday, auditors also pointed out that the Home Office has not changed its estimated size of the illegal population for 15 years, and that nearly two-thirds of immigration enforcement detainees are released from detention without removal.

Source: Home Office ‘uses racial bias’ when detaining immigrants

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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