The Home Office is responsible for ordering detention of asylum seekers. It is difficult to give meaningful data on the average length of detention of asylum seekers (outside the Detained Fast Track, for which see the section on Accelerated Procedure). There is no maximum period set in law, with the exception of detention of pregnant women and children which cannot exceed 72 hours, or 7 days with Ministerial approval. While data on length of immigration detention is now available for the last six years, the figures do not distinguish between asylum seekers and other immigration detainees. Periods of immigration detention including asylum seekers and other foreign nationals vary enormously from a few days to several years.
During 2020, 15,449 left immigration detention. Of these:
|Persons released from detention by duration of stay: 2016-2020|
|Duration of stay in detention||2016||2017||2018||2019||2020|
|Less than 29 days||18,281||18,368||17,655||18,042||11,924|
|From 29 days to 2 months||5,271||4,675||3,480||3,623||1,766|
|From 2 to 4 months||3,261||3,304||2,400||1,871||1,020|
|From 4 months to 12 months||848||634|
|From 1 to 2 years||179||194||186||122||97|
|At least 2 years||29||31||14||6||8|
Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics, Detention.
However, there is no cross-referencing of the number of asylum detainees in 2020 and length of detention of those who had sought asylum. The longest periods of detention are usually of people awaiting deportation after having served a criminal sentence.