Today the Chief Inspector of Prisons has published a worrying report into Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre.
The report comes as a result of an unannounced inspection carried out by HM Prisons Inspectorate earlier this year.
Yarl’s Wood holds almost 300 detainees, many of whom are single adult women. It also holds a number of adult families and there is a short-term holding facility for adult men on the site.
Although the report found a number of improvements made at Yarl’s Wood over recent years, it raised a number of areas of grave concern including allegations of abuse. The inspectors also highlighted a number of other issues, included long term detention and failure to recognise trafficking victims.
Refugee Council Women’s Advocacy and Influencing Officer Anna Musgrave said: “Some of the findings of this inspection are shocking. Women in immigration detention are extremely vulnerable with many likely to be victims of gender based violence so we’re horrified to hear that male officers enter women’s rooms without permission.
“It’s particularly disturbing that officials are not even following current policy and pregnant women are being detained without any clear reason. Pregnant women with insecure immigration status already have high risk pregnancies and we believe they should not be detained under any circumstances. There is absolutely no excuse for compromising the health and well being of a mother and her baby.
“This report shows that urgent changes are needed at Yarl’s Wood to ensure that vulnerable women feel safe and that their dignity is respected.”