LONDON: Statistics can sometimes be disturbing. The British home office has been found to be paying as high an amount as 2,700 pounds a night to the police to keep an immigrant detainee in the police cells. This amount is higher by 2,300 pounds for a superior room in a starred hotel in London.
The rates, however, varied by police stations but the average has been calculated at 360 pounds a night. The immigration service does not have adequate facilities and often it has to rely on police cells. For the year 2003-2004, it paid 11.17 million pounds for the police cells.
These details have been brought out in a government report, Review of Resourcing and Management of Immigration Enforcement, compiled by civil servants. It reveals that at least two forces in England and Wales charged more than an average of 1,000 pounds for a 24-hour period.
The report said: “Not only is the variance in costs striking, but the average cost compared to that paid by HM Prison Service is also remarkable.” The Prison Service, under an agreement with the police, pay 110 pounds for 24 hours.
“Some police authorities do not charge at all but these represent a very small proportion of the overall police cell usage,” the report said.
If the immigration service is charged at the rates paid by the prison service, it would have saved 7.75 million pounds a year.
The report went through invoices raised by police cells between December 2002 and May 2003. It was found that Essex Police charged between an average minimum of 1,500 pounds to a maximum of 2,700 pounds, while Sussex Police charged 1,700 pounds and North Wales police charged 900 pounds.
The report urged provision of more temporary holding facilities for the immigration services, in order to reduce the reliance on the police cells.
A Home Office spokesperson admitted the figures are correct and said talks are going on between the police and immigration service for a possible understanding on a uniform rate.
The report also found that immigration officer teams from the removals and enforcement directorate were not being efficiently used. An average of 7.2 officers were involved in detection work on a Sunday yet only an average of 1.5 illegal immigrants were found, compared with an average of five officers on Monday when an average of 2.5 illegal immigrants were discovered.