Bishop of London asks Government about pandemic effect on immigration detention and removals

On 14th May 2020 the Bishop of London, Rt Revd Sarah Mulally, received a written answer to a question to Government on immigration removal centres:

The Lord Bishop of London: HL3786 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 29 January, the statement that for detention to be lawful, there must be a realistic prospect of the individual’s removal from the UK within a reasonable timescale”, and the travel restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what steps they are taking to find alternative ways in which those placed in detention centres are managed.

Baroness Williams of Trafford: The health and safety of those in immigration removal centres is of the utmost importance but we remain committed to removing foreign national offenders or those who violate our immigration rules.

Detention plays a key role in securing our borders and maintaining effective immigration control. Decisions to detain are made on a case-by-case basis and kept under constant review. As circumstances of the case change, detention is reviewed in light of these changes and release may then become appropriate. However, it is only right that we protect the public from high-harm individuals, which is why the vast majority of those in detention are foreign national offenders.

The Home Office is following all Public Health England guidance and have robust contingency plans in place including measures such as protective isolation to minimise the risk of COVID-19 spreading in the immigration detention estate. Further measures including shielding, single occupancy rooms and the cessation of social visits have been introduced in line with the Government direction on social distancing