5 August 2010
Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London, said today that: "It is not surprising that detainees at Campsfield are protesting. Unlike convicted criminals, who at least know the length of their sentence, those in administrative detention at places like Campsfield often have no end-date in site. It is well-documented that such uncertainty damages mental health and increases tension.
"Detainees can find themselves transferred between centres with no warning, so lose contact with those handling their cases - increasing the pressure. Add to that the recent Government cuts in legal assistance which mean even longer delays for individuals, it's not surprising we are seeing protests.
"This Government's decision to end the detention of children is welcome. It could cut the misery for countless others by restricting adminstrative detention to the small number of cases where it might be strictly necessary, for public safety, for example; restoring effective legal aid and providing a legal status for those unable to return to their country-of-origin." (1)
A statement from the inmates said some people had been detained for more than three years at immigration removal centres across the country with "no prospect of removal or any evidence of future release."
1) The last report from HMIP on Campsfield said that:
"It was difficult for detainees to gain legal advice and representation from local solicitor firms. While an updated list of solicitors was available in the library, only six of the 26 firms listed accepted legal aid work and only one of these was a local firm in Oxford. The majority of detainees who made a faxed request for assistance from firms on the list did not receive a response. In addition, the local firm was oversubscribed, with 23 detainees waiting to be seen at the time of the inspection. This led to delays of several weeks for an appointment and often resulted in the detainee no longer being at the centre by the appointment time. According to local solicitors, the lack of local legal representation continued to stem from unsatisfactory funding of immigration detention work by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). The withdrawal of two LSC tender processes for immigration detention contracts in recent years and the uncertainty of any future contract being put forward for tendering meant that the ability to set up a dedicated team within firms to cover the level of demand was severely limited."