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The UK has the largest Immigration Detention estate in Europe. UK policy results in asylum seekers facing detention at any time, even if they have committed no crime whatsoever.

Detention has no time limit and is not automatically subject to Judicial Review. Many endure months and some endure years of indefinite detention.

There are no safeguards in place to prevent the detention of vulnerable persons, including those who have faced imprisonment, torture and /or sexual violence in the countries from which they have fled.

This harmful and expensive practice is unnecessary and deprives people of their freedom, their dignity and is damaging to their mental health. 

What CoS groups are doing in this area:

Detention Action  Frequently Asked Questions about Detention and reports including Detained Lives. They also have a freephone number 0800 587 2096 for advice. 

Right to Remain have produced a zine ‘Immigration detention: a rough guide for people at risk and their supporters’ which can be ordered from them. 

The Right to Remain toolkit also has a section on detention

Leeds Unity Centre have put together an explanation of the detention process and what happens next

The Migrants Law Project has factsheets on a range of topics, including detention

The Detention Forum  is a network of organisations working together to challenge the UK’s use of detention.

Detention Action supports detainees in Harmondsworth and Colnbrook Detention Centres and campaigns for an end to immigration detention. 

RAPAR (Refugee and Asylum Seeker Participatory Action Research) is a Manchester-based human rights organisation which has a webpage for the development of informed and effective action about immigration detention

Campaign to Close Campsfield includes publications and a short briefing on Immigration detention

AVID – Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees: Produces regular updates and latest statistics

Bail for Immigration Detainees – Bid provide legal advice and representation to migrants detained in removal centres and prisons to secure their release

Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group

Migrant Rights Network 

Asylum Justice and Release (AJAR) are a small group based in Leeds


Some short, excellent and updated awareness raising videos can be found at StandOff Films. They cover the recent hunger strikes and campaigns.  Their new documentary , “Working Illegally” is told primarily through detainees’ testimonies, based on original research by Corporate Watch. It offers critical insight into the labour that maintains the UK detention estate, as well as a general introduction to the immigration detention system.

‘Life After Detention’, a powerful new film made by ex-detainees in Glasgow on their mobile phones and with support from film-maker and Scottish Detainee Visitors volunteer, Alice Myers. A useful awareness resource demonstrating the trauma of detention.

Videoblogg video ‘Britain Detained’ includes some interviews and testimony (2019)

A video on the historic Shut Down Yarl’s Wood demonstration on 6th June, 2015

The Migration Observatory – briefings provide an overview of immigration detention in the UK. It discusses the size of the UK’s detention facilities, the number of detainees, the average duration of detention, and the detention of children. 

Briefing papers from Detention Forum

BBC undercover report at Brook House IRC and Refugee Council response ‘New allegations of abuse at an immigration detention centre show reform cannot wait’

Without Detention: Opportunities for Alternatives.  September 2016 from Detention Action.

Immigration detention in the UK –  University of Oxford Migration Observatory:  This briefing provides an overview of immigration detention in the UK. It discusses the size of the UK’s detention facilities, the number of detainees, the average duration of detention, and the detention of children. It reports that the UK’s immigration detention facilities are among the largest in Europe: between 2,000 and 3,500 migrants are detained at any given time.

The Shaw Review: Report to the Home Office into the welfare in detention of vulnerable persons.

Inquiry into the use of immigration detention March 2015

HM Prisons Inspectorate report: unannounced inspection of Heathrow Immigration Removal Centre, Harmondsworth September 2015

Channel 4 Undercover Yarlswood Investigation

Unannounced HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Report of Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre for Women August 2015

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Report The Verne Immigration Removal Centre August 2015

Migrant detention in the European Union: a thriving business  – MigrEurop Report on outsourcing and privatisation of migrant detention across Europe with graphics and stats

‘No Safe Refuge’ – A UKLGIG and Stonewall report on the experiences of LGBT asylum seekers in detention

Our Guidance for City of Sanctuary groups on supporting someone in detention (Mar 2018)

The Right to Remain toolkit has a section on detention, including information about creating a detention action plan, accessing legal advice in detention and visiting someone in detention.