Economic impacts of immigration detention reform

In Economic Impacts of Immigration Detention Reform for Liberty, we assessed the potential costs and savings of introducing a 28-day time limit on immigration detention.

We concluded that there was scope for net savings of £25‑35m or more each year.

The UK is the only country in Europe without a statutory time limit for holding someone in immigration detention and pressure has been mounting, from a wide range of organisations, for the government to introduce a 28-day time limit.

We modelled the potential cost savings of holding people for shorter lengths of time. We also considered the possibility of avoiding compensation payments for wrongful detention, for which claims should be less likely if detention is less prolonged.

We then analysed the likely new costs from operating alternatives to detention i.e. in the community. This drew on operational data from a pilot scheme run by Detention Action.

We found that the cost savings under a 28-day time limit (£55-65m) would likely far exceed the cost of any alternative (£30m, as an upper estimate) leading to the overall estimated savings figure of £25-35m or more.

Chris Thoung Director, Head of Society [email protected]
  • To read about the report on Liberty’s website, please see here.
  • To read the Guardian’s coverage of the report, please see here.