CAMPAIGNERS have urged the Government to impose a time limit on the detention of immigrants amid claims too many are being locked up.
An independent report said ministers should “boldly and without delay” reduce the 30,000 people detained in immigration centres every year.
The six-month review by Stephen Shaw, the former prisons ombudsman, called for a complete ban on the detention of pregnant women in centres such as Yarl’s Wood.
Mr Shaw also raised concerns about breaches of human rights laws in cases that suggested “problems with attitude” among staff.
A Home Office spokesman said the “vast majority” of people detained “have failed to make their case for asylum or are foreign criminals”.
But the Immigration Minister told MPs the Government would act on a number of Mr Shaw’s recommendations.
James Brokenshire said the Conservatives would “adopt a wider definition of those at risk”, including pregnant women and victims of sexual violence.
A more detailed mental health needs assessment will be carried out in immigration removal centres, reporting in March.
The Government will also introduce a “new approach to the case management of those detained”, he said.
But Mr Brokenshire rejected “arbitrary time limits” on detention, claiming that could lead to abuse of the system.
Mr Shaw said that the Cedars facility close to Gatwick Airport should be closed or have its use changed “as a matter or urgency” because of the cost.
He said detaining each family at the centre – which provides accommodation for those being removed from the UK – costs “tens of thousands of pounds”.
But the “current use of the centre is simply unacceptable at a time of financial austerity”, he added.
A spokesman for Amnesty International slammed the Government for locking up “rape victims, torture survivors and people with serious mental illness”.
He added: “This can and frequently does have a terrible impact on their mental health.
“In some cases the harm it does can be catastrophic. The system destroys people’s lives, and is utterly unacceptable