The pain of those who languish in detention

People in detention centres are abandoned 'in limbo', says JRS UK
People in detention centres are abandoned 'in limbo', says JRS UK

The Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in the UK (JRS UK) has expressed concern and sadness at the latest death in Colnbrook immigration detention centre near Heathrow. The police launched a murder investigation after a 64-year-old immigration detainee died following a fight there on Thursday.

JRS UK runs an outreach service to the two detention centres at Heathrow: Colnbrook and Harmondsworth. A team of religious and lay volunteers visit and accompany detainees offering pastoral support and help.

"We are concerned and saddened to hear of another death in Colnbrook," JRS UK Director, Sarah Teather said in a statement following the news. "Our prayers are with the man’s family."

No time limitSarah Teather, Director of JRS UK

The UK is unusual in having no limit for the time that someone can be held in immigration detention. Some may held be in detention for short periods of time, but many may be detained for years on end before being released back into the community. "Colnbrook is a cauldron of loss, abandonment, frustration and anxiety," said Ms Teather. "This violent death will have added yet another horrible dimension to the pain of people who languish there unseen and in limbo."

JRS UK provides chaplaincy services at Harmondsworth and Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centres, with volunteers spending time visiting detainees, who would otherwise have no visitors. Volunteer pen befrienders provide support to detainees, helping to minimise isolation, while also allowing detainees to practice their written English.

If you would like to volunteer to visit someone in detention with the JRS UK team, please contact