The Home Office has proposed a new policy to protect vulnerable people including pregnant women (‘Adults at Risk’ policy), but there are concernsthat it is very similar to the previous policy, which failed to protect pregnant women. We believe the only way to make sure pregnant women are not detained is to implement Stephen Shaw’s recommendation and to introduce an absolute ban on them being detained.
Medical Justice jointly with Women for Refugee Women and Bhatt Murphy Solicitors we held a meeting in the House of Commons on 22nd March, hosted by Caroline Spelman MP. We had 5 inspiring speakers: Louise Silverton from the Royal College of Midwives who told us about why detention is so damaging for pregnant women, Stephen Shaw who told us about his Review into the Detention of Vulnerable Persons and why he is calling for an absolute ban on pregnant women being detained, Stephanie Harrison QC, Lorraine, who was detained at Yarl’s Wood when she was pregnant and Caroline Spelman MP. The event was supported by Mumset who showed a film about their bloggers connecting with pregnant women in detention.
There is a now a real opportunity to stop the immigration detention of pregnant women, but we need your help to make this happen. There will be a review coming up of the policy to detain pregnant women and there is likely to be more debate in Parliament when the Immigration Bill returns to the House of Commons.
Please write to your MP in the next couple of weeks to help make this happen.
Detaining pregnant women is detention is damaging, unnecessary and unjust.
• Detention can be damaging to the health of the mother and unborn baby
• Antenatal facilities are better in the community
• It is unjust: these people are not criminals
• Despite the current policy saying pregnant women should only be detained in exceptional circumstances close to a hundred pregnant women are detained every year.
• The vast majority (90%) of pregnant detainees get released back to the community, so such detention makes little contribution to immigration control.
For more information see: 'Expecting Change:
The case for ending the detention of pregnant women' on the Medical Justice website.
Women for Refugee Women have produced an excellent briefing – you can use this to write to your MP - here.
Read the account of one woman who was detained when she was pregnant here
Watch Mumsnet’s film here
Others supporting an end to the detention of pregnant women: The All Party Parliamentary Groups on Refugees and Migration; the Royal College of Midwives; the Royal College of Psychiatrists; Sir Stephen Shaw in his recent advice to the Home Office on the detention of the vulnerable; very many other parliamentarians and over 300 NGOs and community groups. Even the Prime Minister recently recommended alternatives to prison for pregnant women who were convicted of criminal offences should be found, if this is true for those serving a criminal sentence the same must apply to immigration detainees who have been convicted of no crime.