The prison industrial complex & immigration detention in the UK

Woman in Detentionsource: London Immigration
published: 22 July 2020

In the UK, there is often a perception amongst the public that racism is not as prevalent an issue as it is in the US and that it is simply a case of a ‘few bad apples’. Yet, as Black Lives Matter protests have erupted across the globe following the murder of George Floyd in the US by Minneapolis police detective Derek Chauvin, the UK’s overt and covert racism has come to a head.

Systemic Racism in the UK
Systemic racism describes the way in which racism is rooted within the very structures of our society. It is evident throughout the foundations of our institutions; criminal justice, health care, employment, housing, income and education to name but a few.

Discrimination across these institutions – which play a significant role in informing the material, mental and physical conditions of our lives – is rife. Within the criminal justice system, this is an ever-growing issue, as police brutality and the criminalisation of Black communities has become almost synonymous with law enforcement, particularly within the US.

Yet the disproportionate criminalisation of Black people similarly occurs in the UK and is no less concerning than that which plagues the US. In fact, the Lammy review found that Black people in the UK are proportionally more likely to be in prison than those in the US. To fully understand the extent to which this operates and just how damaging this is to people of colour, we must look at the prison-industrial complex.

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