Sunday, 10 June 2007

Destination Dungavel

In this week's Big Issue, the Scottish director of the UK government's Immigration and Nationality Directorate is quoted as saying that "Dungavel is the best removals centre we've got". On that basis, he is arguing that more families should be detained in Dungavel, rather than centres in England.

Firstly, if Dungavel is the 'best' of the detention centres in the UK, then I think it says more about the dire conditions in the other centres than the quality of facilities at Dungavel...

Secondly, the assertion that Dungavel is the 'best' detention centre stems from a report by the Chief Inspector of PRISONS. It must be reassuring as a detainee of Dungavel - deprived of your liberty, treated as a criminal and with an uncertain future - to know that you and your family are at least being held in a top notch prison. Some consolation!

Thirdly, and most crucially, these kind of arguments detract from the point of principle here. We should not be imprisoning people who have committed no crime - especially not children.

So to argue that locking people up in Dungavel is OK because it is better than locking them up in an even worse facility elsewhere is appalling.

Click on this link below to register your opposition to detaining more families in Dungavel.


Anonymous said...

It's better to keep kids with their parents than to put them in some facility separate from their parents, or with foster parents, surely. Seems obvious.

Julie Hepburn said...

Thanks for your comment anonymous, and your point is indeed an obvious one. But my central contention is that we shouldn't be locking up people who have committed no crime - which includes the parents of these children. I don't think any of these people should be in Dungavel - especially not children. We should keep these families together, outside of prisons.

Anonymous said...

The assessment is presumably that the family is likely to disappear if they are not granted residency.

So, your point ultimately is we should not bother deciding if immigrants deserve to stay and just let anyone who turns up stay.

Please have the honesty to state that you have a completely open-door immigration policy, rather than hiding behind the figleaf of it being a humanitarian issue.

Julie Hepburn said...

Crikey - this is the second post today that has accused me of dishonesty!

What is dishonest about saying that locking families up in Dungavel is a disgraceful way to treat human beings?

I don't pretend to have all the answers to all the issues facing Scotland and the wider world, but I do think the guiding principle in all that we do is to treat people fairly and with dignity and respect.

I do think we need reform of the immigration and asylum systems. It will be no surprise to regular readers of my blog, that I think the Scottish Parliament should have powers over these important areas. We should have a more transparent and more efficient system, that deals with asylum cases more quickly and humanely.

In the case of families who have been in Scotland for years (while their case has been processed) I think there should be a presumption in favour of their continued residency. Why should kids who have been brought up in Scotland and attended school here and made friends here be deported to a country they do not know?

Furthemore, by the tone of your oomment, I suspect you think asylum seekers do not have a positive contribution to make to our country. Why not?

Oh, I could go on but this is turning into an article rather than a comment...