Ministers spent £120,000 holding migrants in police cells in a single month

Ministers spent £120,000 detaining migrants in police cells in just one month, it can be revealed.

It comes as police forces were urged to make fewer arrests in order to reduce pressure on Britain’s creaking justice system. People can be detained in police cells for “immigration purposes” if officers believe they don’t have permission to stay in the UK. There is no limit on the time they can be held in cells, but it is usually a short period before they are moved to an immigration detention centre.

But as they’re not being held over a criminal matter, the cost of holding people in cells is reimbursed by the Home Office. Only bills amounting to more than £25,000 are routinely published – so the total for all 41 police forces is likely to be much higher.

But in February three forces cracked that threshold – Avon and Somerset, scotland >Police Scotland and the West Midlands. The combined bill in February was £123,175. The amount charged to the Home Office varies between forces, and is not routinely published.

But Warwickshire police has previously disclosed it charges £25.82 for the first hour in detention, plus £21.08 for each additional hour – around £510 per detainee per day.