Labour-led Islington Council has become the first London council to back the campaign to end indefinite detention in the UK.
At Full Council, Islington Labour councillors moved a motion that urged that Tory Government to reform its unfair practice of detention. The UK is the only country in Europe with no time limit on detention. People who are detained are vulnerable, often fleeing conflict or persecution, and are at risk of mental and physical abuse from detention staff.
Each year, around 30,000 people are detained in the UK – more than any other country in Europe, apart from Greece. Over half of people who were detained in 2016 did not have any legal representation. The stress and abuse that they experience means that there is now over one suicide attempt a day in detention centres in the UK.
Cllr Michelline Safi Ngongo, Islington Labour councillor for Hillrise, says:
“I am pleased that Islington has become the first London Council to back the campaign to end indefinite detention. We have a proud record of helping vulnerable migrants and refugees, from welcoming 14 Syrian refugee families to urging the Home Secretary to address the appalling conditions at Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre.
“The Tory Government’s approach to detention and its callous attitude towards people who have been detained shows the human cost of their ‘hostile environment’ to immigration. Islington Labour firmly believes that everyone, regardless of their background, deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. As a refugee myself, I am proud to call Islington my home.”
The campaign to end indefinite detention is being led by These Walls Must Fall, a network of campaigners and organisers who are urging reform of detention in the UK.
Islington Labour councillors have also resolved to urge the Tory Government to implement the recommendations of the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Detention, including to end the practice of indefinite detention and introduce a 28 day limit for how long anyone can be detained for immigration purposes; prosecute staff if there is evidence of abuse in detention; only use detention as a last resort; and directly involve experts-by-experience in future inquiries into detention.
Islington Labour councillors’ support for the campaign to end indefinite detention was part of a wider motion that reiterated Islington Council’s support for people who have been impacted by the Tory Government’s immigration policies, including the Windrush Generation and local people from other countries in the European Union.