In 2013, Britain’s use of immigration detention peaked, with over 4,000 people being held across 12 detention centres on any day, and plans for expansion to bring that to 5,000.

Since then, despite the extension of the hostile environment deeper into our everyday lives, the use of detention has steadily fallen. How did this happen? How can press for more change, and not a return to “normal” after Covid-19? How can make sure that “alternatives” to detention are not just new forms of control and punishment?

On the Detention Forum blog, Jerome Phelps gives an overview of how we arrived at this situation. Detention had fallen by 60%, even before the pandemic, with currently only a few hundred people in detention centres. And provides an insight as to what happened to make that change:

“…sustained and effective pressure from civil society. Campaigners, charities, faith groups, lawyers, individuals, institutions and (crucially) migrants with experience of detention collaborated strategically over many years to transform the political debate. They succeeded in both making detention a political problem, and in setting the narrative for other actors to follow.”