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Immigration detention and removal in the UK

"We were sleeping and the officer came. It was scary and Mum was crying."
"I didn’t think it was real, not real life."
"They were bashing and kicking the door."
“It’s not nice going to the toilet in front of an officer."
"They broke our house."

In early 2010 OurKingdom began to illuminate the UK’s appalling policy of arresting and detaining children in conditions known to harm them.

This journalism, sprung from the unfunded End Child Detention Now campaign, grew into our Shine A Light project, led by award-winning investigative reporter Clare Sambrook.

G4S disputes claims that transgender asylum-seeker had to share bedroom with man

Neglect, contempt and hostility — how the UK government really welcomes refugees.

People tied up ‘like animals’ on UK deportation flights

Commercial contractors routinely belt immigration detainees into restraints so extreme that they are rarely used in prisons.

Disaster capitalism, and the outsourcing of violence in the UK

Corporations bleed what profits they can from disaster. Democracy is replaced by a business plan. An excerpt from Antony Loewenstein’s Disaster Capitalism: Making A Killing Out Of Catastrophe.

Frail 84 year old subjected to ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’, prison ombudsman says

The death of Alois Dvorzak exposes increased shackling of immigration detainees, as commercial contractors fear financial penalties that follow escapes.

90% of immigration detainees visiting hospital were handcuffed, inquest hears

  • Dvorzak inquest. Day 8: Juror: Should arrangements for vulnerable detainees have been in place a long time ago?
  • Home Office official: “Yes. I don't know why they weren’t.” 

London doctor: ‘We receive a lot of patients from detention centres. Quite often they’re cuffed.’

  • 84 year old immigration detainee was handcuffed and chained as he lay dying in hospital. Dvorzak Inquest, Day 6.

‘We, former detainees, demand the closure of Dungavel immigration removal centre’

Today former detainees and their supporters gather to protest at the former prison in South Lanarkshire.

Dying detainee, 84, taken to hospital, handcuffed to a chain. Dvorzak inquest. Day 5

  • Coroner: “But Mr Dvorzak had chest pains. Why was he still handcuffed?”
  • Security company employee: “I can’t justify a comment on that.”
  • West London Coroner’s Court, 23 October 2015.

Security company tried to overrule medic’s concerns about Alois Dvorzak, inquest told. Day 4

The for-profit escort company Tascor told a worried medic that a frail old man’s removal from Britain “could not be aborted unless there was resistance”, an inquest jury hears. 

Dying 84 year old taken to hospital in handcuffs. Twice. Alois Dvorzak inquest. Day 3.

Manager of a UK for-profit detention centre tells inquest jury: “There was no room for discretion. Challenging it would have slowed him going to hospital.”

Alois Dvorzak inquest: Doctor repeatedly warned that 84 year old was not fit to be detained

Detention centre healthcare, by commercial contrator Primecare, was “extremely basic” and unsafe, court hears. 

Alois Dvorzak inquest: death of vulnerable and confused 84 year old detained by UK Border Force

Days before his death, a frail old Canadian man slept on chairs in a Gatwick Airport holding room, a court heard yesterday.

openDemocracy writer Jenny McCall wins Anti-Slavery Day media award

Story exposing UK government’s failures to protect victims of trafficking judged “best news piece” on modern slavery.

Satisfactory? The UK immigration lock-up that Samaritans dare not visit

  • • Another man dies at The Verne, an isolated detention centre in Dorset
  • • The Samaritans said Verne was too dangerous to visit
  • • Chief inspector of prisons concludes Verne is “satisfactory”

When did inconvenience kill compassion? Thoughts on Calais

If we replace “migrant” with “desperate and terrified person” do we see something different? A nurse and psychotherapist writes.

So many reasons why turning landlords into immigration officials is a bad idea

A lawyer argues that the UK is moving from immigration control to migrant exploitation.

Dozens of fathers among migrants to be forcibly deported tonight

Men with strong family ties to the UK are being forcibly removed on ghost flights, leaving pregnant partners and young children behind.

Barbara, tagged and monitored like a criminal

Barbara is an asylum seeker living in the UK. How the government’s immigration crackdown creates opportunities for humiliation and profit.

Exploding the myth of ‘payment by results’

National Audit Office issues damning report on outsourcing model that claims to guarantee value for money.

Toddlers, rats, asbestos. G4S, asylum seekers’ landlord

Why would the UK government let its commercial contractor get away with housing vulnerable asylum seekers in dangerous slums?

Britain moves to deport Tamil torture survivor

22 year old man detained regardless of UK rules forbidding detention of torture survivors.

On the movement to shut down Yarl’s Wood

“Headbutt the bitch, I’d beat her up,” said one Serco guard, caught on camera at the notorious UK immigration removal centre. Cartoonist Lucie Kinchin on activist efforts to set the women free:

Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi, openDemocracy writer, shortlisted for Orwell Prize

Reporter who takes time to listen acutely to people at the sharp end of government policy is one of six shortlisted for political journalism prize.

How to survive in prison

Amid a crisis of suicides and assaults across prisons in England and Wales, one former inmate offers advice on staying safe. (See also: Danger, overcrowding, no time to talk: a UK prison officer speaks out).

Dying for Justice: black and minority ethnic deaths in custody

509 suspicious deaths of people from BME, migrant and asylum seeker communities in state custody over 23 years. Five prosecutions. Not one single conviction. A chilling report from the Institute of Race Relations.

openDemocracy writers longlisted for Orwell Prize

Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi and Clare Sambrook are among 15 writers in contention for one of journalism’s highest honours.

Just how badly does the UK protect victims of trafficking?

The government claims its Modern Slavery Bill, that passed into law today, is proof that it cares about victims. So why are anti-trafficking processes letting victims down?

Meet the UK’s latest weapon against organised crime and asylum seekers

Tools and rhetoric designed to combat terrorism and serious crime are being deployed against asylum seekers and people who work with them.

UK activists prevent deportation of Afghan migrants

Activists "put their bodies on the line" to delay a deportation flight to 'unsafe' Afghanistan.

Yarl’s Wood: legal black hole

Women in Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre have become increasingly desperate as repeated rounds of legal aid cuts introduced by the UK Government have made it more difficult for them to access justice.

One bath for 12 women and 11 babies: UK asylum housing by G4S

On a suburban street in Leeds, security company G4S packs 23 women and children into one house with a single bathroom.

UK immigration detention: the truth is out

Successive governments have ignored and dismissed complaints of suffering in UK immigration lock-ups. This week, in Parliament and on national television, fresh evidence has been heard.

Death at Yarl’s Wood: Women in mourning, women in fear

Abuse at Yarl's Wood immigration detention centre is finally mainstream news. When a woman died at Yarl’s Wood in 2014, a woman who knew her inside spoke by phone to Jennifer Allsopp.


'Headbutt the bitch' Serco guard, Yarl’s Wood, a UK immigration detention centre

For years women locked up inside Yarl’s Wood, a UK government lock-up in Bedfordshire, have complained of racist abuse, sexual abuse and shoddy medical treatment. Now there is video evidence. WATCH ‘INSIDE YARL’S WOOD’ CHANNEL 4 NEWS

Super-rich boss vs abused maid: whose side are we on?

The UK government makes it easy for the super-rich to harm their domestic employees. One small amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill could make a big difference, but ministers seem strangely reluctant.

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