Detention times at UK Dungavel immigration centre 'a concern'

A recent report based on the 9 to 20th February 2015 unannounced inspection of Dungavel immigration removal centre in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, has raised concerns over detention times. Although the facility was found to be safe, well-operated and treating its 249 detainees well, inspectors said that case work delays were leading to the lengthy detention of vulnerable asylum seekers.

The July 2015 report on the findings published by Nick Hardwick, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, revealed that his inspectors were very concerned about, what they deem to be, 'avoidable case work delays.' Aside from avoidable case work delays, inspectors also reported that contractors continue to transport detainees at night, which they consider to be poor practice.

Hardwick said: "Reports on recent inspections at Dungavel have been positive. Detainees at the facility are well looked after. However, there were reservations about the length of time in detention that some vulnerable detainees are enduring. The problem is these matters are largely beyond the control of the contractor responsible for the centre."

One such instance of a vulnerable detainee being held is a female torture victim suffering with serious health problems. Hardwick said: "To the centre's credit, despite some negative feedback from detainees, the confidential surveys and discussions we carried out with those being held described their treatment as good."

Recent figures show immigration detainees held for months

Data from other recent reports on Dungavel detention centre show that dozens of detainees have been held at the facility for months at a time, and in some instances, for over a year.

In June [2015] around 400 protesters - including human rights groups, religious organisations and trade union groups – gathered outside Dungavel calling for the detention of immigrants to cease. The groups said they will continue to campaign outside Dungavel until a 'fair, effective and humane asylum immigration policy' is in place.

Linda Fabian, the East Kilbride MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament) whose constituency includes Dungavel, said she supports calls from Parliament for changes to be made to the UK asylum system.

She said: "I'm glad that the recent Dungavel report is reasonably positive to the extent that people detained there are treated well on a day-to-day basis. However, the issue has never been about local staff or visiting professionals, which is made very clear by Nick Hardwick. The way the system is operated by the Westminster Government remains the key issue."

She added: "This latest report highlights that people who are extremely vulnerable are being detained, often for a duration that surpasses anything that can be considered humane. The UK is the only the EU member state that does not cap the length of time a person can be detained under immigration powers."