Key recommendations in the report include improved training for staff, restrictions on the detention of those with mental illness or social care needs and a time limit on Home Office authorised detention. The Board believes that if these are accepted by the Home Office and the contractor, Mitie (Care and Custody), this would significantly improve the welfare of detainees.
To the Home Office
- Detainees with identified serious mental health illness should not be held in an immigration removal centre.
- Detention of people requiring social care should only be in circumstances where their needs for personal assistance can adequately be met.
- The period of immigration detention should be limited to a maximum of six months, if there is no prospect of immediate removal. A periodic review mechanism should be created, fully independent of the immigration authorities, for all detainees held for more than six months, with powers to make binding recommendations.
- The Home Office should re-evaluate its decision making in cases where allegations of torture are upheld by the Rule 35 medical procedure.
To Mitie (Care and Custody)
- Handcuffing of detainees while being transported outside the Centre should be reconsidered, balancing risk against detainee dignity.
- Improvements should be made to standards of cleaning and maintenance to improve the living environment for detainees.
- Consideration should be given to further staff training to better prepare staff for their relationship with detainees.
A full account of the Board’s views on the living conditions of detainees, how these could be improved and their comments on Home Office policy and practice in the treatment of immigration detainees can be found in the report, which you can download here.