We’re Calling for The Immediate Release of All People in Immigration Detention. Here’s Why.


You sure don’t need us to tell you that COVID-19 is having huge impact on the entire world in many ways. As individuals, it’s vital we socially distance to reduce transmissions and help protect our families, our communities, and, well, everybody everywhere. But social distancing is all but impossible for some people, including those in immigration detention.

Sign the petition NOW to protect people

in immigration detention from COVID-19

What Is Immigration Detention, Anyway?

In the UK people can be held in immigration detention if they don’t have the right to remain — meaning their application to be in the UK is being processed or has been refused. 

The Home Office claim immigration detention is a last resort practice of holding people ahead of being imminently removed from the UK. But, the reality is detention is used far beyond its stated purpose and the system is full of huge flaws. 

A report from MP's on the Home Affairs Committee warned there are "serious problems" in almost every part of the detention system. 

Over half of all people in immigration detention have sought asylum in the UK at some point meaning they are here seeking safety from war or violence in their home countries. Survivors of torture, and victims of human trafficking and modern slavery are also wrongly detained without adequate safeguards. Others can be detained when they try and renew their visa having lived here legally for years. Often people have been here since they were children and consider themselves British. 

In the UK there is no time limit on how long people can be detained for, meaning people often lose months, or even years, of their lives to immigration detention. But more than 60% of people are eventually released, for many their detention had no impact on their immigration case and was completely unnecessary. 

Immigration detention is inhumane at the best of times. But during this pandemic, the UK government must act immediately to save lives.


Sign the petition NOW to protect people

in immigration detention from COVID-19


A Human Disaster Waiting to Happen

On average, each person with COVID-19 infects between 2 and 2.5 other people. It spreads most rapidly in places where people live in close quarters, like cruise ships and nursing homes — and detention centres.

Mishka, a member of Freed Voices, a group of experts-by-experience committed to speaking out about the realities of the UK’s immigration detention system and calling for reform, describes immigration detention as:

“A place with a lack of basic hygiene: people are cramped up in human storage facilities where many are forced to share shower rooms, cells, and dirty laundry rooms.”

There have already been two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in UK immigration detention centres, and those held report not even being provided with soap, sanitizer, or information on the risks of the virus.  

Sign the emergency petition to protect

people in immigration detention


How You Can Help

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights has called for the release of people in immigration detention, stating that under human rights law immigration detention for the purpose of returns can only be lawful as long as it is feasible that return can indeed take place. But with current travel restrictions preventing removals, there is no justification for holding anyone in immigration detention.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Spain has just announced the release of people in immigration detention centres, recognising that it’s impossible for people to return to their home countries right now. 

In response to public pressure and legal action from Detention Action, 350 people have already been released. System-wide case reviews and a partial ban on new detentions have also been implemented in the UK. But hundreds who remain in detention are still at risk. But there is hope. If we make enough noise about this, the home office will be pressured to release people. Take action today.

Join us in taking action to demand that

all people in immigration detention are released immediately