UK not persuaded that EU Returns Directive delivers strong returns regime 6th May 2009: Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has said that there is no time limit for detention of illegal immigrants. In a written response to Mr. Christopher Huhne, MP for Eastleigh, Ms. Smith said: “Detention is a final option and is only used for the shortest period necessary. Every decision to detain is taken on a case by case basis and we do not have a maximum time limit.”
Mr. Huhne wanted to know if the Home Secretary will review the UK’s opt-out from the EU returns directive and if she will adopt a maximum time limit for the detention of illegal immigrants.
Ms. Smith said: “While the United Kingdom has not opted-in to this directive, we agree that a collective approach to removal would have advantages. However, we are not persuaded that this directive delivers the strong returns regime that is required for dealing with irregular migration. We prefer to formulate our own policy in line with retaining control over conditions of entry and stay; including the returns procedure. Our current practices on the return of illegal third country nationals are in line with the prescriptions of the directive.”