Home Office to detain asylum seekers this week amid Rwanda preparation

28 April 2024

The Home Office is set to detain asylum seekers this week as part of its preparation for deportation to Rwanda, according to reports.

Various broadsheets are reporting that officials plan to detain refugees who attend routine meetings at immigration service offices, as well as pick up individuals nationwide in a two-week exercise.

These individuals will be immediately transferred to costly detention centres that have already been prepared for the operation and held until they can be put on flights to Rwanda. It is reported that some individuals who are identified for these flights are already being held. 

The announcement has put police in Scotland on alert due to the high risk of street protests and efforts by pro-refugee campaigners to prevent the detentions. Previous deportations in Scotland have been halted by mass protests, such as the ones that occurred in Glasgow in May 2021 and Edinburgh in June 2022. These protests saw locals surrounding immigration enforcement vehicles to prevent the removal of asylum seekers after tense standoffs with the police.

The Home Office operation is believed to have been timed to coincide with local council elections in England on Thursday. While Police Scotland officers will not participate in the detentions for the Rwanda flights operation, they will be involved in crowd control and policing the Border Force's operations.

The Home Office has increased detention spaces to 2,200 and has trained 200 caseworkers to quickly process claims. Additionally, 25 courtrooms and 150 judges have been identified to handle legal cases efficiently.

This news comes as the government pushes forward with its controversial bill legalising flights to Rwanda, with the first flights expected to take off in 10 to 12 weeks.

The Home Office's decision to detain asylum seekers earlier than anticipated has raised concerns among lawyers and campaigners who fear it will lead to legal battles, community protests, and clashes with the police. 

Robina Qureshi, CEO of Positive Action in Housing, said:

"We condemn Rishi Sunak's "Rwanda plan" in the strongest terms. The rounding up of vulnerable refugees over the next two weeks is a despicable display of performative cruelty. It is an expensive and senseless operation that will bring misery and fear to asylum seekers who may now hesitate to report to the Home Office out of fear of being detained and effectively trafficked to Rwanda by the State. This entire endeavour will cost millions while achieving very little. If Rishi Sunak truly wants to address the issue of refugees coming to the UK, he should focus his attention on ending the conditions that force people to flee their countries, such as ceasing to bomb their countries. Already, churches, refugee campaigners and others have been in touch with us to say they are ready to stand in support of any of their neighbours who face this horrific treatment of the most vulnerable people in our society. Additionally, we demand to know from Sunak whether the Home Office also plans to detain Palestinians seeking asylum in the UK, especially those who have shamefully not been granted automatic humanitarian protection despite facing the destruction of their homes, infrastructure and the loss of their loved ones in what appears to be a plausible genocide."

The Home Office has stated that the detention of individuals is an inevitable part of operationalising the Safety of Rwanda Act and its efforts to tackle illegal migration. However, it declined to provide further details on operational activity at this time.

Please indicate your consent to this site’s use of cookies

Some cookies are essential for our site to function. We also use cookies for functionality and for performance measurement.