Inspectors slam ‘prison like’ immigration centre

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21 Mar 2017

A ‘prison’ like immigration removal centre (IRC) has been criticised by the Chief Inspector of Prisons for detaining too many people for too long.

In a recent inspection of Morton Hall, an IRC near Lincoln, inspectors discovered that 31 people had been held for over a year, including three who had been detained for two years. On average, people were locked up at Morton Hall for over three months.

Worryingly, the inspection also revealed that three children had wrongly been imprisoned alongside adults: one for 12 days, one for 36 days and one for 151 days. Some of these detentions were prolonged because of disagreements between local authorities over who was responsible for assessing the child’s age.

Cases of self harm at the centre had also sky rocketed, with inspectors revealing there had been a three fold increase. The revelation follows two recent deaths at Morton Hall. Inspectors said that a new Government ‘adults at risk’ policy, designed to protect vulnerable detainees, wasn’t understood, with staff unable to identify people who’d been identified as at risk of harm.

Responding to the report, Refugee Council Policy Manager Judith Dennis said: "This troubling report further reminds us that the Government’s immigration detention estate is a stain on the nation’s conscience. Every year, thousands of people, including children, are spirited away, sometimes in the dead of night, through a shadowy government policy, to these bleak prisons.

"What’s even more alarming is the fact that people entering immigration detention have absolutely no idea when they’ll be released, leaving many people with their mental health in ruins. If the Government truly believes in justice and liberty, then it must close Morton Hall and places like it as soon as possible.”

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