Academics, Activists and Policy-makers
Edited by Michael J. Flynn and Matthew B. Flynn
Chapter 5: Inspecting immigration detention: Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons
The chapter discusses the work of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP), a government-appointed independent human rights-based institution responsible for monitoring prisons and detention centres in the UK. It places the discussion of immigration detention inspection in the broader context of prison reform and debates about migration control. The author, an HMIP inspection team leader, argues that in liberal-democratic societies there are two broad approaches to promoting reforms and challenging abuses: working from the inside to achieve progress with the risk that principles may be compromised and good intentions confounded; or promoting change from the outside, which is more uncompromising but less influential, at least in the short term. This dilemma confronts human rights-based inspection of immigration detention in the UK. The main focus of HMIP is on improving the treatment of detainees and conditions in detention, not challenging the system, even if immigration detention arguably lacks legitimacy in a way that criminal imprisonment does not. The author explores the “effectiveness” of detention inspection and whether it has led to meaningful change.
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