Last week, we reported on the NGOs and legal bodies who have written to the Home Secretary to demand the release of all people from immigration detention before Covid-19 spreads.

The response from the Home Office was cold. Current policy appears to be basically: wait until someone displays symptoms, then put them in an isolation cell. When those cells are full, put all the people with symptoms in one big place together. And wash your hands.

People in detention are rightly scared. It is inevitable that Covid-19 will soon start to spread fast in the centres. Yesterday we heard rumours of people in one of the centres testing positive. Many people in detention have underlying health concerns, and provision of healthcare in detention is completely inadequate at the best of times. Anxiety levels are rising fast. People are already suffering, before the virus has even taken hold. We need to get people out now.

Women for Refugee Women is just one of many organisations reporting on the distress being felt by people in detention, in this case at Yarl’s Wood:

Legal challenge

Detention Action issued a legal challenge over the Government’s failure to safeguard all those held in immigration detention.

The challenge concerns the lawfulness of continued detention while global travel restrictions prevent removals from the UK, and while conditions in detention centres present a risk of serious harm and death resulting from an outbreak of Covid-19.

Detention Action is seeking the review and release of all those currently held under immigration powers and an immediate halt to further detentions.


Detention Action has also set up a petition so you can show your support. Please sign and share.

EMERGENCY PETITION: Protect people in immigration detention from COVID-19

To Boris Johnson & Priti Patel,

You must immediately take steps to release all those held in UK immigration detention centres to prevent serious harm and loss of life.

COVID-19 poses a grave threat to life in immigration detention centres, where thousands are warehoused in unsanitary conditions and many have serious health conditions.

Immigration detention exists for administrative reasons ONLY. There is no reason all those held cannot be released.

There is no justification for holding anyone in immigration detention now that borders are shutting and flights are being suspended as there is no prospect of people being removed from the UK.

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