INDEPENDENT REPORT RECOMMENDS CHANGES FROM THE HOME OFFICE
In its annual report for the year 2019, the Independent Monitoring Board at Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre – appointed by ministers to ensure detainees are treated humanely – commends:
- The professional focus of staff on the safety, dignity and welfare of detainees, particularly those who are vulnerable or who exhibit challenging behaviour.
- The delivery of healthcare, education, library services, welfare support and purposeful activity in the centre.
- A reduction in the number detained in the centre – down from an average of 293 in 2018 to 247 in 2019 – with a beneficial effect on life in the centre.
- A substantial decrease in drugs and drug dealing. During 2019, 45 detainees were found under the influence of illicit substances compared with 227 in 2018.
But the report also highlights a number of concerns, including:
- The unsuitability of detention for men with severe mental health conditions. During 2019, four men at Morton Hall were diagnosed with severe mental health conditions but stayed in detention for periods of 15, 22, 52 and 70 days, respectively, before they were moved to specialised care settings.
- The strain placed on detainees by the uncertain nature of detention and, often, long periods in detention. In 2019, the five longest-serving detainees at Morton Hall had spent between 388 and 784 days at an immigration removal centre.
- The number of incidents of self-harm. These were down 7% from 217 in 2018 to 202 in 2019 but it is still high and was less than the 16% decrease in the centre population.
- People being kept in detention for months even though a judge has granted them bail from detention or in cases where there is professional evidence that they are at risk of injurious harm if they remain in detention.
Chris Rose, chair of the Independent Monitoring Board at Morton Hall, said:
“We make a number of recommendations to the Home Office to reduce and minimise the need for immigration detention. These include, in the case of foreign national offenders, making better use of their time in prison to resolve immigration cases without the need for immigration detention. We think there should be better screening and assessment of people with severe mental health conditions to avoid them being placed in detention. And we also hope the Home Office will investigate and resolve the delays in releasing detainees who get bail or are at risk of harm if they remain in detention.”