The Board considers The Verne to be a well-run establishment where detainees are treated with decency, fairness and respect although we would like to highlight that for the many men who arrive at the establishment with mental health issues or occasionally with suspected contagious disease, although the care and consideration the staff are able to give them is exemplary, they have to be held in accommodation which we would like to see considerably improved.
The Board feels that there is a positive emphasis on humane treatment and every effort has been made by all departments to acknowledge the diversity of the establishment’s population in work, education, religion and variety of food provided. Much work has also been done to ensure that vulnerable detainees, of whom there are many, can feel safe and looked after in a compassionate and non-toxic environment.
The Board does however have serious concerns about the conduct of the escorting services that transport the detainees to The Verne from various parts of the country and other IRCs. This year’s report places particular emphasis on highlighting lengthy and convoluted journeys, especially those that take place between IRCs during the night. We feel that rarely are these night moves necessary, and that they are both inhumane and disrespectful. Many detainees arrive, or leave, in an anxious, confused and tired state and often have a long and unsettling wait before they can be given a room and a bed for the remainder of the night. In many cases this also necessitates additional staff working at night, both in the escorting service and the Centre when, with more efficient planning, most of these detainees could be moved and processed during the day. The Board has made it a priority to collate the figures for the number of night moves and to lobby the various parties concerned to considerably reduce these numbers. We will continue to do this throughout the current year.
Like most other IRCs and prisons, the Verne has had considerable problems with the use of illegal substances, occasionally resulting in detainees being hospitalised. In the main, however, the staff has, with the persistence of vigilant officers and the ‘sniffer’ dog, kept this misuse down to a manageable level. The substance misuse team has also been very proactive in finding ways of helping detainees to become less reliant on drugs and alcohol.
The IMB is satisfied that fairness and respect is a prime consideration for those in detention at The Verne.
If there are any queries, or questions arising from this report please contact the IMB Chair at IRC The Verne, Portland, Dorset DT5 1EQ.