Better facilities are needed for people kept in the holding rooms for long periods, especially those detained overnight.
The Board monitors and reports on the treatment and welfare of people in immigration detention at the two airports and the immigration reporting centres at Becket House and Eaton House.
In their annual report for the period covering 2019/20 the Board comments:
- The provision at Heathrow is adequate for short periods of detention but, without fresh air or natural light, is unsatisfactory if the stay extends more than a few hours, especially for children.
- During the year over 2000 people had stays of more than twelve hours and 134 of these for over 24 hours. Additionally 73 children, either unaccompanied or in families, had stays of more than 12 hours while 14 of these had stays of over 24 hours.
- At City Airport the accommodation is excessively cramped.
- The rooms at the two reporting centres are often overcrowded due to unnecessarily long waits for transport to Immigration Removal Centres.
The Board remains concerned that detainees at both airports cannot access legal advice via the advertised telephone help-line, which invariably goes to answerphone and does not lead to advice.
There continues to be delay in the Home Office implementing a system to deal with the long-standing problem of detainees not having access to their personal medication which inevitably puts their health and well-being at risk.
IMB Chair, Angela Taylor said: “Overall we have found many detention and escort staff to be caring and sympathetic to the detainees they have to manage, including vulnerable individuals and families. However, detention is often an isolating and uncomfortable experience, especially for those individuals who are waiting for long periods, are tired and anxious after their flights, and in some cases are fearful of what will happen to them if they are sent back to their own country.”
For further information please contact: Angela Taylor, Board Chair, on 07411 709930.
Information for Editors:
London Heathrow and City Airports IMB is appointed by the Home Secretary to monitor and report on the welfare of people in immigration detention. Board members are unpaid volunteers making regular visits to the airports and reporting centres. They also observe the removal of people being taken under escort to their own country up to the time they board the aircraft.