October
02
2017
Author
Gemma Lousley and Sarah Cope
We are Still Here

Women for Refugee Women has demonstrated the harm that immigration detention does to women who are seeking asylum. In our previous reports, Detained and I Am Human, we were able to show that the majority of asylum-seeking women who are
detained are survivors of sexual or gender-based violence, and that locking them up in detention re-traumatises them. We also showed that their detention serves no purpose, as the vast majority of asylum-seeking women are subsequently released back into the community to continue with their claims.

We have been running the Set Her Free campaign against the detention of women seeking asylum since 2014 and have raised these issues with the Home Office and ministers on many occasions. In 2015, in response to the concerns of organisations
campaigning against the current system of detention, including Women for Refugee Women, the government commissioned a review into the welfare of vulnerable people in immigration detention. The Shaw review, published in January 2016, recommended the government should reduce its use of immigration detention and implement reform “boldly and without delay”. It said that pregnant women should never be locked
up in detention, and that survivors of sexual and gender-based violence should not be detained.

In response, the government introduced a new “Adults at Risk” policy, which says that people who are vulnerable or particularly “at risk” of harm from detention should not normally be detained. Under this policy, which came into force in September 2016,
survivors of sexual or gender-based violence are recognised as “at risk”, and so unsuitable for detention.

The government also introduced a 72-hour time limit on the detention of pregnant women, with the aim of ensuring that they are not routinely detained. Women for Refugee Women welcomed these changes as important steps forward. However, we
have been concerned that since the Adults at Risk policy came in, the Home Office hasn’t explained how it has been monitoring its impact, to ensure it is achieving its aims.

So, we decided to conduct our own research to help us assess the effectiveness of
the Adults at Risk approach.