We spoke to Ed at a drop-in centre run by a United Reformed Church:
Ed sought asylum in the UK as a victim of torture. Her first asylum application was denied and Ed was taken into detention: “they came in the night and arrested me… it was like more traumatism in me… I was crying crying crying … just ask to God why why why?”
After being in detention Ed explained that “the Home Office said that normally somebody vulnerable [like me] should not be in detention… and they apologised about that” but a month later she was taken into detention again for 8 days and “one month later… they were there to arrest me for the third time… can you stop traumatising me?… enough is enough…”
Ed, aged 42
Indefinite detention, along with deportation, is one of the ultimate threats underlying the hostile environment.
Indefinite detention is the process by which migrants – usually undocumented migrants or those who have had their asylum claim rejected – are held in prison-like conditions. Once detained in an Immigration Removal Centre (IRC), they cannot leave until the Home Office releases them, or returns them to their country of origin or they choose to return to their country of origin.
The recommended time limit for holding individuals is 28 days, but in reality there is no limit. Britain is the only country in the European Union where this policy is in operation without a legal limit.[i] In 2016-17 more than a third of people detained were held for more than 28 days. As of 30 June 2017, one person had been held in detention for 1514 days, which is over four years.[ii]
[i] The Report of the Inquiry into the Use of Immigration Detention in the United Kingdom: A Joint Inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees & the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration, March 2015, p. 16, https://detentioninquiry.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/immigration-detention-inquiry-report.pdf
[ii] Home Office, ‘National Statistics: How many people are detained or returned?’, 24 August 2017, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-statistics-april-to-june-2017/how-many-people-are-detained-or-returned