The government is still holding asylum seekers in prison without
justification, campaigners claim, writes Clare
Home Office statistics for the first quarter of 2003 show that
130 asylum seekers are being detained in prison establishments.
A Home Office spokesperson said that while the government had
outlined its policy to end the routine detention of asylum seekers
in prisons in the white paper ‘Secure Borders, Safe
Haven’, it had always recognised a need to hold a small
The spokesperson said asylum seekers were held in prisons either
because they were on remand, convicted or sentenced for a criminal
matter, or if for reasons of security and control they could not be
held in removal centres.
But the charity Bail for Immigration Detainees said there were a
number of asylum seekers who serve a brief prison sentence for
minor offences, but were then kept in prisons for months after the
sentence ends under immigration act powers. Others may have been
picked up under suspicion of an offence, or had the charges
dropped, but were still detained in prisons.
“Because of the lack of access to legal advice and
representation people often remain in prisons for many months with
no access to independent review of their continued detention by a
court,” said a BID spokesperson, adding that unlike those on
criminal charges, there wass no automatic opportunity for a bail
hearing for immigration detainees.