07 July 2014, The Tablet

Teather to chair immigration detention inquiry

Catholic MP Sarah Teather is to chair an inquiry into immigration detention amid concerns that the system is failing weak and vulnerable detainees.

Sarah Teather, a Liberal Democrat MP and former minister who is Chairwoman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Refugees, said at the launch of the inquiry on Friday that the inquiry came after several high-profile incidents at detention centres, including deaths and alleged sexual abuse.

“There is a clear need for parliamentary scrutiny of how and why we detain people for immigration purposes,” she said.

The inquiry will be jointly run by the APPGs on Refugees and Migrants and will hear evidence from people who have been detained.

Labour MP and Catholic Jon Cruddas will also sit on the panel, along with five other MPs and four peers, including Baroness Lister and Lord Lloyd of Berwick.

The number of people held in detention centres in the UK has risen by four per cent in the last year, Ms Teather's office said in a statement announcing the inquiry. Some 790 migrants are currently detained in prisons solely under immigration powers and many have been detained for long periods of time, including 39 people for two years or longer, the statement said.

Two people have died in detention this year: a man in his 20s, Bruno Dos Santos, at HMP The Verne, on the Isle of Portland in Dorset, and 40-year-old Christine Case from Jamaica, who died at Yarl’s Wood immigration centre near Bedford in March. An inquest into the death of American Brian Dalrymple, a 35-year-old man with schizophrenia who died in Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre near Heathrow from a ruptured aorta in 2011, last month strongly criticised the care he had received in detention.

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