Brighton’s Bella Sankey works tirelessly in the pursuit of justice for the detainees which her organisation, Detention Action, represents and advocates for every day. 

Immigration detention is one of the intricate policies which governs the UK's immigration system.

The indefinite nature of detention has come to light in recent months, with MPs debating the issue in June 2020.

Currently, detainees are locked up for an indefinite period of time while their immigration cases are heard.

Bella believes that the indefinite nature of detention “contributes to a real sense of hopelessness, and a feeling of being in limbo, which can be incredibly corrosive on somebody’s emotional and mental wellbeing”.

Bella describes the experience of detention as “mental torture” which “deteriorates” the detainees' mental health. The absence of a time-limit creates a “very disempowering situation” and, amongst other factors, leads to a “mental health crisis” in detention centres.

Many of her opponents suggest that imposing a time-limit would result in the immigration system not working. They believe that, if a time-limit were in place, there is a potential that those locked up may be released before a decision has been made on their case.

However, when I put this proposition to her, she disagreed and said that the indefinite nature of detention is “not necessary” for the effective functioning of the system. In fact, Bella states that a time-limit would be a positive mechanism as it should “encourage efficiency amongst Home Office staff and caseworkers”.

Although the proposal for a 28-day time limit was rejected by MPs, Bella remains decisive in her belief that the use of indefinite detention is “very much a political decision by this government” which is “based around convenience” and “control”. She continues to campaign for the end of what Detention Action describes as “inhumane indefinite detention”.