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Immigration detainees banned from Twitter and Facebook


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A new Detention Services Order 04/2016 about internet access for detainees has just been published. This is the first time the Home Office has set central guidelines on internet access for immigration detainees. The Order makes clear that all detainee internet usage is monitored and centrally recorded. The Order states that detainees should have access to “personal internet based email accounts” and “ready access” to

any non-prohibited category of website (see paragraph 8), such as education, legal and news websites, to assist with maintaining links with friends, families and legal representatives and to prepare for removal. DSO 07/2013 sets out more general guidance for staff on welfare provision in IRCs.

The prohibited websites include the following types of website:

Prohibited lifestyle categories

  • Social networking (including Facebook, Twitter, chat rooms and instant messaging)
  • Pornographic material
  • Dating
  • Gambling

Prohibited harm related categories

  • Terrorism (extremist and radicalisation material)
  • Weapons and explosives
  • Racist material
  • Crime

It has previously been confirmed by inspectors that access to websites such as Amnesty International and Bail For Immigration Detainees was banned at one detention centre by the commercial contractors who profit by prolonged detention. This DSO should put an end to that if properly implemented. Why detainees are allowed access to personal internet based email accounts but not Facebook or Twitter is a mystery, though.

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Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.