Ending the detention of children is just the beginning

Hundreds of former asylum-seekers are still stuck in a Kafkaesque system with no prospect of release

Nick Clegg's announcement that the coalition is stopping the detention of children in asylum cases is a positive move, but does not deal with the bigger problem of failed asylum-seekers being detained for years on end with no release date.

Despite the sterling efforts of organisations such as the London Detainee Support Group, the plight of these individuals is relatively unremarked on. At present, there are roughly 250 individuals detained, with no prospect of release. Ostensibly, they are waiting to be deported; in reality, only 18 per cent ever are.

Thus, hundreds of individuals are stuck in a bureaucratic black hole, for no purpose and at great expense, each detainee costing on average £68,000 a year to detain.

One detainee released on bail this year had spent four years in detention. He was being deported because he had committed a crime in the UK, and lost the right to asylum as a result. His crime was trying to leave the UK without a passport. He served three months in jail, before spending four years in detention as the UK Border Agency attempted to deport him. UKBA, however, was unable to deport him. Why? Because he didn't have a passport.

The situation is Kafkaesque. At best, the current system is inefficient and expensive; at worst, it is illegal and makes a mockery of Britain's claims to be a civilised and just nation.

Clegg and the coalition have taken a step in the right direction, but they have a long way to go before Britain's broken immigration system is sorted out.

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Labour picks Gillian Troughton to fight Copeland by-election

Troughton, a Copeland councillor, was critical of Jeremy Corbyn during the summer leadership race. 

Labour has picked Gillian Troughton, pro-nuclear former doctor to fight the Copeland by-election.

After accepting the nomination, in an email shared online, Troughton said she was "pro-nuclear; no ifs, no buts", and that her husband worked in the nuclear supply chain. She is also a local councillor and a practising Christian. 

She described the election as a choice about the NHS: "I have been part of the campaign against the proposed cuts to A&E and the maternity wing because I know that our community needs this service."

Like Jamie Reed, the current MP for Copeland, Troughton is a critic of Jeremy Corbyn and backed Owen Smith in the 2016 Labour leadership campaign.

She also campaigned to remain in the EU, and now must win over a voting population that voted 62 per cent to leave - the strongest Eurosceptic vote in Cumbria. 

Her victory is a symbolic defeat for the Labour leadership, as she beat Corbyn supporter Rachel Holliday, also a councillor with ties to the nuclear industry and the NHS. 

However, the decision to pick a non-Corbynite may be a relief for those within the Labour leader's camp who worry about "owning" a possible by-election defeat. 

Corbyn said of the selection: “I am delighted that Gillian Troughton will be Labour’s candidate for the Copeland by-election. 

“Gillian is a local councillor with a strong track record of getting things done for her community. She has campaigned tirelessly to maintain local hospital services. 

“As a St John’s blue light ambulance driver, Gillian has seen first-hand the extent of the crisis caused by this Conservative government, which has chosen to fund tax cuts for the wealthiest instead of our health service. 

“I am proud that Labour has selected a local candidate with such dedication to her community.”

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.