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17 Jul 2018

Labour vows to end May’s ‘hostile environment’ and overhaul the UK’s detention system

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16 May 2018
Labour vows to end May’s ‘hostile environment’, overhaul the UK’s detention system and invest savings into services for survivors of slavery, trafficking, and domestic violence

After Sajid Javid’s shocking admission that the Home Office could have wrongfully deported 63 British citizens, Labour has today announced plans to scrap Theresa May’s heartless ‘hostile environment’ policy and overhaul the UK’s detention system.

Speaking at the IPPR this morning, Diane Abbott MP, Shadow Home Secretary, has committed Labour to closing the Yarl’s Wood and Brook House immigration detention centres when in government, ending indefinite detention and limiting detention to 28 days.

Scandal has dogged both centres, with the chief inspector of prisons, Nick Hardwick, describing Yarl’s Wood as a “place of national concern” in 2015. In February of this year, 120 detainees at Yarl’s Wood launched a month-long hunger and work strike in protest at “inhumane” conditions. 

Labour will commit more than £20 million a year saved from these closures to fund services that support the survivors of modern slavery, trafficking, and domestic violence.

With G4S declaring profits of more than £2.3 million on Brook House in 2016 alone, Diane Abbott has announced that Labour will ban private contractors from taking on future contracts to run immigration detention services, arguing that “private firms have no business in detention”.

Diane Abbott also called on the Government to end the “scandalous practice” of children born in Britain being forced to pay substantial fees to obtain legal citizenship.

With evidence from the Migration Observatory suggesting that there are potentially 57,000 more UK citizens from the Commonwealth who arrived before 1 January 1973, who may be in a similar situation to the ‘Windrush generation’, Labour will demand that the new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, keeps his promise to make things right by restoring full rights of citizenship for all Commonwealth citizens.

Diane Abbott MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said:

“The Windrush scandal goes to the very heart of Theresa May’s hostile environment policy – it was not accidental – it is a direct consequence of Government policy.

“The next Labour Government will repeal all those parts of the immigration legislation that were introduced to support it. We will rescind all Home Office instructions to carry it out, and we will remove all obligations on landlords, employers and others to enact it. 

“Sajid Javid made a promise to make things right for the people who have been treated so appalling by his Government. He should start by restoring full rights of citizenship for all Commonwealth citizens, which his party removed and which has contributed to the tragedies that have fallen on the Windrush generation.

“Children that have been born here should not have to pay over a thousand pounds to obtain legal citizenship, simply because their parents were not born in this country. It is theirs as right. Just like it is my right and the right of most people in this room today. Labour will end this scandalous practice".

On ending indefinite detention and closing Yarl’s Wood and Brook House, Diane Abbott said:

“People are being kept in detention for months, even years on end. They include the Windrush generation, victims of torture, refugees and victims of sexual exploitation. 

“The Government announced the Modern Slavery Bill with great fanfare but no resources. They are gearing up to do exactly the same with the upcoming Domestic Violence Bill. It is simply not good enough.

“Under the Tories, services for the most vulnerable women in society have been slashed again and again. So today I am announcing that Labour will take the millions that are used annually to fund Yarl’s Wood and Brook House immigration detention centres, and put this directly back into services to support the survivors of modern slavery, trafficking, and domestic violence.  

“Yarl’s Wood in particular has caused so much pain to vulnerable women that we should have been protecting. Diverting these resources directly to them is not only essential, but the right thing to do.”

On ending private firms running detention centres, Diane Abbott said:

“This Government and its predecessors have long had an obsession with enriching the private sector from the public purse. This is despite the costs, either financially, in shoddy service or in human misery.

“So now we have the grotesque spectacle of G4S being rewarded for failure at Brook House. A firm which oversaw the appalling, brutal treatment of detainees, and was exposed by Panorama, continues to be rewarded for their cruelty. It beggars belief.

“Labour will end this rotten system. Private firms have no business in detention.”

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