We need to talk about immigration detention

The news has broken today that yet another Panorama expose has led to G4S (again) suspending staff over the abuse and poor treatment of people supposedly in their "secure care". There are 2 separate issues here - The detention of migrants solely on the basis of immigration matters and the trusting of said detention to companies that have a track record of creating a culture that allows abuse.

Creating a culture that permits acts of violence and abuse

The hostile environment in the UK goes directly to fuel and support the othering and unworthy narrative of migrants. This narrative permits their poor treatment, through a lack of care and humanity. It creates them as the 'other' and allows abuse and violence to be used against them. This is in part, directly a result of oppressive policy and othering narratives. We fuel such hate and distrust of migrants that we don't blink an eyelid when we detain people solely on immigration matters. 

We are the only country remaining in the EU that still supports the indefinite detention of those locked up on immigration matters. We still also routinely lock up children and families, including as part of the family returns process. We do this despite knowing full well the impact of secure settings on the development of children and the trauma many have experienced at that hands of immigration enforcement.

Secondly is the corporate culture. This is not G4s first expose of their abuse of vulnerable people allegedly in their "care". We saw this before with G4S in the past 2 years with the revelations from the past 2 years with the abuse of children at Medway Secure Training Centre. These are not two separate incidents. These are not also the only two. This is a systemic issue of detention for profit. This is a company fuelling a culture of detainee abuse - Whether of children in STCs or immigration detention. 

This toxic mixture of othering narratives, oppressive and dangerous policy and the profiteering of detention creates a culture where detention is encouraged for reasons of economy and abusive because of the oppression and othering within it.

Detention only for immigration matters

The other issue is the whole philosophy behind immigration detention. This is directly linked to the hostile environment. Scores of people detained for immigration matters have not done anything else wrong in the eyes of the law. They have not committed any acts of violence, they have not stolen from anyone, they have just tried to live and build a life somewhere. 

Our position

We are deeply concerned at the latest report of the abuse of migrants at Brook House IRC and we stand in solidarity with those who have experienced violence at the hands of those in a position of power, as well as all of those who have been subject to immigration detention. 

We work with children, young people and families many of whom have been or are at risk of entering immigration detention. None of these families have committed any crimes, any act of violence and their only matter is outstanding immigration matters. We condemn any act of detention against children and families where all best evidence points towards the harm detention can have, even short periods, on children's development. 

In the wider debate of immigration detention, we feel there is a need for radical reform of the immigration system as a whole, but particularly the troubling practice of indefinite detention of migrants who have outstanding immigration matters. We stand in solidarity with The Detention Forum and other migrant rights organisations calling for a time limit on immigration detention.

We also feel that the antics of G4S have gone on long enough in secure "care" and call for an immediate investigation of their conduct and wider culture that has permitted several act of violence of the course of years across the secure estate that they manage. The sheet fact that there are a constant stream of issues with regards to G4S and the care of vulnerable people point to something in the culture of detention profiteering and corporate culture that is permissing poor treatment.

Finally, we call for the polices that make up the "hostile environment" to be condemned in the strongest possible terms for the infringement of the rights of other humans. We see many children and families who are severely affected by this collection of policy and legislation - denied access to safe housing, healthcare and opportunities as well as being subject to immigration control and detention. It is this environment, othering narrative and marginalisation which permits the abuse we see in UK immigration centres.