Shining a light on the hostile environment

Last night, PI, Migrants Organise and Bail For Immigration Detainees joined forces to shine a light on the enduring plight of migrants in the UK who are subject to hardline and dehumanising Home Office policies.

Our joint light projection marked the 10 year anniversary of former home secretary Theresa’s May’s infamous ‘hostile environment’, a policy purposefully cruel that includes indefinite detention of migrants and refugees.


The past decade has also seen the steady creep of data sharing and exploitation targeting migrants, as we’ve documented.

This drive to track, monitor, target and analyse the data of migrants and refugees is not slowing down – the UK hostile environment continues to expand.

This is exemplified in the most recent hostile practice: the roll out of new electronic monitoring tags for migrants, in a context of limited safeguards and oversight.

These tags enable 24/7 monitoring of an individual’s location, as well as live tracking, meaning you can follow their movements in real time. This is a seismic shift in the treatment of migrants. This data provides deep insight into and reveals intimate details of an individual’s life, going far beyond what is necessary to prevent absconding. In fact, a recent FOIA response found that of people granted bail between Feb 2020 and March 2021 – more than 7,000 people – just 43 people absconded. Less than 0.56%.

Furthermore, the Home Office plans to use the historical location data collected by the tag & stored by the third-party commercial provider to decide on an individual’s immigration application, as well as share data with law enforcement.

This decade of dehumanising migration policies in the UK undermines migrant and refugee populations’ freedom to be human. The data-intensive aims of the Home Office must be held in check.

Together with migration groups, we will continue to shine a light and challenge invasive and dehumanising policies and practices, we will expose what is wrong with them, and we will tell the stories of those affected.

Everyone should be free to be human.

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