A second report on Alternatives to Detention (a pilot project conducted by UNHCR and the Home Office) has been published this week by the UNHCR, months after it was promised.
Here’s a link to the short summary, also covering the first pilot project.
The government has dismissed the findings but UNHCR disagrees
“UNHCR notes that the UKHO has indicated that they do not see any ‘evidential basis for further initiatives to support individuals following the Community Engagement Pilot model at this time’. However, it is our view that the two pilots in this series provide a strong evidential basis for making ATD business as usual in the UK.” (summary, p8)
Outrageously, the government even says UNHCR should recommend the pilot’s approach to other countries while refusing to take all but minor recommendations on board itself!
You can read the full report here
A new approach to dealing with the immigration backlog is desperately needed.
You’ll get an excellent overview of the report in this article by Sonia Lenegan of Free Movement
She says, “Many people on the pilot were advised that they may be able to regularise their stay but were then unable to access legal aid or afford to pay privately. This was a stand out point for me, namely how inaccessible rights are without a legal aid lawyer to assist.
A dramatic reduction in the use of detention and putting the cost savings into legal aid instead would certainly be a start towards a better immigration system, however neither of those things seem likely to happen at present.”
We agree it’s not likely Suella Braveman or her subordinates Jenrick and Hobbs will change course. And yet the chronic underuse of Hassockfield/Derwentside IRC makes a mockery of any claim that the detention system is running efficiently. We should to close this centre and adopt an entirely new approach to asylum.
Instead of locking women up, provide them with the kind of ‘one to one’ support that has seen the pilot project participants through their ordeal with little of the trauma experienced day by day in detention – and at far less cost.
The government must change track. It’s time to put money into countrywide, accessible legal aid.
All images, taken at our latest monthly demonstration, by @sj_rudophi