UK detained thousands of refugees in 2015

UK detained thousands of refugees in 2015
The UK detained at least 3,500 refugees who were attempting to reach the UK from France last year, according to an official report.
3 min read
08 March, 2016
Thousands of refugees have been detained trying to reach the UK [Getty]
Around 40 refugees a day were detained after crossing the Channel from France to the UK last summer, according to an official report on Tuesday.

The report also criticised the authorities' response to the situation as "inadequate".

The report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP), which contained figures on arrivals that are not normally made public, showed 3,603 refugees were detained in July, August and September.

This was at the height of a surge of refugees who had attempted to cross the Channel from France to the UK.

The refugees arrived in the UK through a precarious illegal route, hidden in the back of lorries on cross-Channel ferries or by freight trains using the Eurotunnel, the report said.

Many have died making the dangerous crossing, while many more hoping to reach the UK are living in substandard living conditions in Calais' makeshift "Jungle Camp", which is slowly being dismantled by French authorities.

Most of the refugees who were caught have bene held at a facility at Dover Seaport, with the rest detained at an overflow facility in nearby Folkestone.
It was unacceptable that arrangements were still not in place to process detainees quickly, efficiently and decently.
- UK Police Chief Inspector Peter Clarke

"There is no doubt that the increases in migration initially overwhelmed the existing facilities and an emergency response was required," said Chief Inspector Peter Clarke.

"It was unacceptable that arrangements were still not in place to process detainees quickly, efficiently and decently, while ensuring that the most vulnerable, such as children, were safe and that the basic physical needs of all detainees for food, rest and clothing were met."

The report did not say how many of the refugees made asylum claims or were returned.

Immigration Minister James Brokenshire accepted that the use of an overflow facility "was not acceptable" and insisted it would not be used in the same way in the future.

"Since this inspection we have improved the facilities at Dover Seaport and continue to work on plans to open a new centre to deal with clandestine arrivals at Kent ports," he said.

Immigration has once again become a hot topic in Britain as it prepares to vote on whether to stay in the European Union.

Prime Minister David Cameron's office warned on Monday that a so-called Brexit could mean refugee camps being set up on British shores if UK border checks were removed from Calais.

"Should Britain leave the EU there's no guarantee those controls would remain in place," Cameron's spokesman said at a daily briefing last month.

"If those controls weren't in place there would be nothing to stop thousands of people crossing the Channel overnight and arriving in Kent (southeast England) and claiming asylum," he said.