Unlocking Detention ‘visits’ Dungavel

Last week, Unlocking Detention visited Dungavel, Scotland’s only detention centre and the final stop of the #Unlocked15 tour.

Also last week, Human Rights Day was held, a stark reminder of the rights being denied to those detained – over 30,000 people every year, deprived of their liberty, indefintely.

Dungavel was an appropriate centre to end our tour on – one of the most distinctive centres, one of the most remote, and one of the most fiercely contested.

 

Throughout Unlocking Detention, we’ve been asking people what THEY would miss if they were detained, without time-limit.  Here’s one response we had last week:

Bridget Holtom, a volunteer for Scottish Detainee Visitors, wrote a very thought-provoking piece on criminality, detention and migration:

As I reflect on where I would now draw the line on immigration and crime and how the debate has changed over time online, it is evident we still have a long way to go. There is still a tendency to talk about the injustice of detaining people who’ve “committed no crime”. Furthermore there is a tendency to emphasise petty crimes and avoid any mention of more serious ones that people may commit. Therefore, there are bigger, unaddressed questions about criminality and immigration that must be unpicked in order to end immigration detention once and for all.

We heard from Alison, whose foster-daughter was detained in Dungavel in 2008 when she was just 16 years old.

I checked my phone for messages:

Received: 10:46, 08-05-2009. Message from home. click. “She’s in Dungavel. Deportation in a week unless solicitor can stop it.”

All the clichés are true. time and space slow down. There is a sudden shaking in my hands. The sound of colleagues talking about submission rates fades and I feel surround by silence. My fingers are heavy. I can’t get the phone to close. My fingers are shaking. I drop the phone. Pause. Breathe in. Turn to the colleague on my right – a gentle man – and make some stumbling apology about needing the phone home. In my feet, the blood from my face. On the stairs my partner picks up:

“It went about as badly as is possible.”

“I’m coming home.”

Read Alison’s Diary of a Dungavel Detention.

On Friday, we spoke to Matthew who is currently detained in Dungavel.  Matthew’s community is in London, so cannot come and visit him. Thankfully, he is supported by Scottish Detainee Visitors but detention is still a very isolating experience.  Read the interview with Matthew here.

 

 

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