WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
May 24 2022
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO

Home Office plans for ‘de-facto indefinite’ immigration detention system ‘unsafe’ without proper medical care

Home Office plans for ‘de-facto indefinite’ immigration detention system ‘unsafe’ without proper medical care

Napier Barracks demo by Andy Aitchison (from Proof 5)

Home Office’s plans to create a ‘de-facto indefinite immigration detention system’ using, for example, former army military bases were ‘unsafe’ and without access to adequate healthcare, according to a new report by a humanitarian medical group. The study undertaken by Doctors of the World (DOTW), together with researchers at the University of Birmingham, drew on its evidence of attempting to provide medical care to people in contingency accommodation such as Napier Barracks in Kent and ‘demonstrates the unsuitability of a model of accommodation that has been hailed as a prototype’ for the  Nationality and Borders Bill currently going through Parliament (here).

According to the report, since 2019 there has been a vast increase in the number of asylum seekers living in Home Office ‘contingency’ accommodation such as hotels and repurposed Ministry of Defence barracks ‘with current estimates reaching over 37,000 people’. ‘Whilst originally intended for stays under 35 days the majority of people have been in the accommodation for longer periods,’ it says. DOTW supported 313 people housed in hotels and barracks over the last two years.

The group found that accommodation conditions were ‘not meeting basic human standards which contributed to poor health’.  ‘This included poor food, access to basic sanitary products, inability to store medication or have professionals visit to provide care,’ the report said. ‘People reported a significant mental health impact of the loneliness, isolation and feelings of being imprisoned engendered by the conditions.’ People were unable to get prescriptions, medical care for pregnancy and children, referrals to specialists and ongoing support for medical conditions both chronic and acute. Researchers concluded that accommodation, defined as a ‘quasi-detention’ by the All-Party Parliamentary Group in Immigration Detention, was ‘unsafe for asylum seekers due to the lack of access to adequate and appropriate healthcare services and the nature and conditions risk causing harm to health directly’.

The report points out that the new Bill will give the Secretary of State power to indefinitely house people seeking asylum in reception centres and risked ‘creating a de-facto indefinite immigration detention system in the UK with well documented impact on migrants psychological and physical wellbeing’.

Under Priti Patel’s plans to reform the asylum system the Home Office will develop more large-scale asylum accommodation in remote areas where evidence shows access to medical care is extremely limited.


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