It has been revealed that the government are paying around an astonishing £4m in compensation every year to people who have been held unlawfully in Immigration detention centres.

The detention centres, which are located throughout the UK, are designed to house people the government is trying to deport. This directly refers to people such as foreign prisoners and failed asylum seekers. The Home Office say that detention exist as part of a firm but fair immigration system.

A BBC Freedom of Information request discovered the government paid a total of £18m over the past four years – £4m being paid in 2014-15 and £4-5m in each of the three years prior to that.

It projected that up to 30,000 people pass through Britain’s detention centres each year and that brings a cost of £35,000 a year per detainee. If then it is ruled that the government has detained someone unlawfully, they must pay a compensation fee to that individual.

Freedom of Information requests were made by a number of separate parties.

The Victoria Derbyshire programme request unearthed that the government paid in total:

  • £4,461,344 in 2011-12
  • £5,017,971 in 2012-13
  • £4,775,000 in 2013-14
  • £4,000,000 in 2014-15

Another request at the hands of the charity Citizens UK found that between 2012-2015, the Home office had in fact paid up to £155,000 to people who were wrongfully put in detention.

Detention Action’s – a charity that supports those housed in the centres – director, Jerome Phelps, described the UK was the only European Country that has no time limit on detention. He said, ‘Immigration detention is lawful in certain circumstances where the Home Office is intending to deport someone and there’s a reasonable prospect of that taking place… what we’re seeing is people being detained for months, often for years, long after it becomes apparent that there’s no prospect of their deportation actually taking place.’

During a debate which took place last month on the proposed Immigration Bill, peers in the House of Lords voted that the detention period should be limited to 28 days, apart from in cases when a court judges otherwise.

The UK government argument in light of this this was that most of the detained members were either foreign criminals or alternatively, have broken immigration rules.

Concerns have been raised from the opposing opinion after has criticized has built about the lack of a limit. It is believed that detaining people indefinitely has a negative impact on their mental health.

New inspections have uncovered that generally detainees are being kept for over a year and in two specific cases at the two largest detention centres in Europe (located in West London at Dorset and Harmondsworth), this was as much as five years.

A spokeswoman from the Home Office was quoted in saying, ‘Detention is an important part of a firm but fair immigration system, helping to ensure that those with no right to remain in the UK are returned to their home country if they will not leave voluntarily.’

‘Decisions to detain individuals are reviewed regularly to ensure they remain justified and reasonable and, if necessary, they can be challenged through the courts. We are committed to treating all detainees with dignity and respect and take the welfare of detainees very seriously.’

‘Following an independent review by Stephen Shaw, commissioned by the home secretary, the government is taking forward three key reforms – introducing a new “adult at risk” concept into decision making on immigration detention, publishing a mental health action plan and implementing a new approach to the case management of all those detained. We expect these reforms – and broader changes in legislation, policy and operational approaches – to lead to a reduction in the number of detainees and the length of time they spend in detention before removal.’