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Lindley, Anna (2020) 'What are we afraid of? Exploring risk and immigration detention.' Migration Studies, 9 (1). pp. 90-114.

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Risk assessment is a prominent feature of managed migration regimes. How risk is conceptualised and operationalised, however, is highly contested terrain. The extent to which immigration detention represents an appropriate response to specific risks posed by people with contingent or no legal status is particularly hotly debated. In the UK, an early adopter and until recently an eager developer of detention , the policy is that immigration officers carry out individualised risk assessments on each person detained, considering removal prospects, risk of flight, and offending as well as the risk of harm to the individual. Drawing on published reports, government statistics, and interviews with close observers, this article explores the premises, policy, practice, and outcomes of these processes. The analysis flags multiple issues, suggesting that risk evaluation in relation to immigration detention is far from a well-oiled and reliable machine, causes unnecessary human harm, operates in a way that generates unforeseen risks for wider society, and points to other logics shaping detention.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Development Studies
ISSN: 20495846
Copyright Statement: © 2020 Oxford University Press. This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Migration Studies following peer review. The version of record Lindley, Anna (2020) 'What are we afraid of? Exploring risk and immigration detention.' Migration Studies is available online at: and
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2020 11:49
Related URLs: https://academi ... 67-8301d03bb0e8 (Publisher URL)
Funders: Other

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