New allegations of abuse at an immigration detention centre show reform cannot wait

5
01 Sep 2017

The private security company G4S has today announced that it has suspended nine staff members from an Immigration Removal Centre following allegations of abuse and assaults against people detained.

An investigation has been launched into the allegations ahead of a BBC Panorama programme scheduled to be shown on Monday evening that is reported to include covert footage recorded at Brook House IRC near Gatwick airport. The footage is said to show officers “mocking, abusing and assaulting” people being held there.

The allegations come as Stephen Shaw, a former Prisons and Probations Ombudsman, is due to begin a follow up review on detention. In his original report, Shaw concluded that the UK detains too many people and made 64 recommendations for reform.

Stephen Shaw’s report followed a cross-party inquiry into the use of Immigration Detention carried out by the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Refugee and Migration. The MPs and Peers on the inquiry panel called for wholesale reform of the use of detention in the UK, including the implementation of a 28 day time limit.

Despite Government promises to implement reforms, last week’s immigration statistics show that very little has changed, and the UK remains the only country in Europe to not have a maximum time limit on detention.

Commenting on the news, Refugee Council Chief Executive Maurice Wren said:

“These allegations are extremely concerning, but depressingly predictable too. We work with many asylum seekers and refugees who have been damaged by detention and the arbitrary, unaccountable and indefinite deprivation of liberty that it involves.

“An urgent and thorough investigation into these allegations is vital, of course, but the problems of detention do not start with the misbehaviour of individuals. These are only a symptom of a much deeper rooted problem that is born of the Home Office’s obsession with deterrence, control, retribution and enforcement.

“That obsession has resulted in a detention system that detains too many people, for far too long, and at a huge expense to the taxpayer. Radical reform is now needed, starting with a 28 day time limit as called for by the ground breaking cross-party parliamentary inquiry that reported in 2015.”

You can read the latest Detention Forum briefing on immigration detention here.