Refugee Council response to Prisons and Probation Ombudsman's report on Oakington detention centre - Refugee Council
July 21, 2005

Refugee Council response to Prisons and Probation Ombudsman’s report on Oakington detention centre

Refugee Council response to report by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Stephen Shaw ‘Inquiry into allegations of racism and mistreatment of detainees at Oakington immigration reception centre and while under escort’.

Margaret Lally, Deputy Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:

“This is a powerful report that must not be ignored. It makes clear the UK is subjecting vulnerable human beings who have committed no crime to ‘a sub-culture of abusive comment, casual racism, and contempt for decent values’.

“We cannot allow this to continue. As the report notes, many of the horrifying scenes of racism and abuse shown in the film took place at Oakington detention centre, one of the more well-run centres. The chances of similar abuses taking place at other removal centres are therefore extremely high.

“This sort of treatment would be unacceptable for anyone, but how much worse when inflicted on vulnerable people, some of whom may have been tortured and imprisoned in the countries they fled?

“We urge the government to heed all 54 of Mr Shaw’s recommendations, to root out this appalling behaviour. We also call on the government to fully review the practice of routinely detaining people, particularly families and children. There are clearly problems inherent in detaining people on such a large scale. The system now detains people at all stages of the process and often without a removal date in sight. The result is that people end up imprisoned often for many months at a time with no idea what will happen to them and for no evident purpose. It is time for a fresh, humane approach.”