Place of detention


Country Report: Place of detention Last updated: 16/04/21



There are two types of detention centres in Poland, both used for detaining asylum seekers and foreigners subject to return procedures, namely guarded centres and so-called rigorous detention centres.

All detention centres are for migration-related purposes and the SG is in charge of their management. Asylum seekers are never placed in regular prisons with ordinary prisoners, but stay together with migrants in an irregular situation in a guarded centre or rigorous detention centre. There is no special facility where only asylum seekers are detained. The SG officers who run the centres are trained and there are no major issues reported concerning the staff behaviour.

The design and layout of some of the centres create the impression of a very prison-like environment: thick walls, bars in the windows and on the corridors. In addition, all centres are surrounded by high walls topped with barbed wire.

Guarded centres

These are 6 guarded centres with a total capacity of 595 (compared to 494 in 2019, 590 in 2018 and 608 in 2017) places for foreigners, located in:

Capacity and occupancy of guarded centres: 2018 – 2020
Centre Maximum capacity Occupancy end 2018 Occupancy end 2019 Occupancy end 2020
Biała Podlaska 130 32 19 0
Białystok 122 20 69 40
Lesznowola 73 46 33 38
Kętrzyn 120 25 11 69
Krosno Odrzańskie 64 55 32 39
Przemyśl 86 38 14 62
Total 595 216 178 248

Source: Border Guard, 5 February 2021.


Currently in four detention centres (Białystok, Krosno Odrzańskie, Lesznowola, Przemyśl) only men are held and in another two-(Kętrzyn, Biała Podlaska -closed at the end of 2020) only families with school-age children are held. Additionally, Border Guard plan to build a new building for families with children in guarded centre in Lesznowola in 2021.

In one of the centres (Kętrzyn), there is a separate part for unaccompanied irregular migrant children.[1] Families are placed together in one room as far as possible both under the law[2] and in practice.[3] The single men are placed in rooms according to their nationality or preferences. In addition, there is a possibility to change a room on a foreigner’s justified demand.[4] There are 2 places (1 room) for individuals with a certificate of disability in Kętrzyn.

The Polish authorities decided to remove bars in the windows in the detention centres and installed special secure windows in Lesznowola, Kętrzyn which cannot be opened without assistance of the Border Guard officers.[5] In 2021 that windows will be installed in Biała Podlaska.

 “Rigorous detention centres” (areszt dla cudzoziemców)

The term, literally translated as “arrests for foreigners”, replaced that of “pre-removal centres” as of 1 May 2014. These facilities impose more rigorous conditions of detention than guarded centres.[6] Until December 2012 there were 5 such centres. Currently, there is one centre with a capacity of 33 places in Przemyśl for men and women, which is a single unit with a separate entrance.[7] In 2020, a total of 29 foreigners were placed in the Przemysl rigorous detention centre. At the end of 2020 there were 6 foreigners detained.[8]

An asylum seeker can be placed in a more rigorous detention centre for foreigners only if there is a risk that they will not obey the rules in force in a guarded centre or the applicant has already disobeyed these rules.[9] These detention centres are more prison-like than guarded centres. An asylum seeker placed in such a centre cannot freely move around (he or she is closed in the ward), cannot go outside for a walk whenever he or she wants except for two hours per day etc.[10]



[1] Information provided by the Border Guard, 14 and 25 January 2019; Article 414(4) Law on Foreigners.

[2]  Article 414(3) and (5) Law on Foreigners.

[3]HFHR and Association for Legal Intervention, Wciąż za kratami, 2014, available (in Polish) at:, 17. Information provided by the Border Guard, 14 and 25 January 2019.

[4] Information provided by the Border Guard, 18 January 2020.

[5] Information provided by Border Guard, 5 February 2021

[6] Order No 23 of the Ministry of Interior of 1 July 2014 on the designation of areas in which the arrest for foreigners is executed.

[7]  Information provided by the Border Guard, 14 and 25 January 2019.

[8]  Information provided by Association for Legal Intervention, February 2021.

[9]  Article 88a(2) Law on Protection.

[10] Centrum Pomocy Prawnej im. Haliny Nieć, K. Przybysławska (Ed.), Monitoring of Forced Returns from Poland July 2014-June 2015, 35-36.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation