The Dover Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) today publishes its first annual report on the short-term holding facility for the detention of suspected illegal migrants at Eastern Docks, Dover.
Its report highlights three principal concerns with respect to the operation of the holding room:
Identifying and Protecting Vulnerable Detainees The Minister is asked to agree that additional steps should be taken to better inform and protect vulnerable people passing
through Dover, in line with the objectives of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
Expansion and upgrading of the facilities The Board asks the Minister to clarify when the planned expansion and upgrading of the facilities to make them suitable for holding detainees for up to 24 hours, including separate facilities for families and unaccompanied minors, will be carried out.
Statutory Rules for the Operation of Short Term Holding Facilities
The Minister is asked to clarify when is it intended to publish Statutory Rules for the operation of short-term holding facilities.
The Chair of the Dover IMB, Peter Finnimore, said: ‘In 2016 the number of detainees passing through the holding room fell steadily, probably due to improved security around Calais Port and the Channel Tunnel’
Between July and December 2016 1886 people were detained compared with 8164 in the same six months of 2015. 128 people were detained for over 24 hours compared with 1011 in the same six months of the previous year.’
Mr Finnimore continued: ‘The Board is concerned, however, about some people passing through the facility – mainly young women – who might be victims of trafficking and believe Ministers should review procedures and take further steps to protect vulnerable people’.
Since commencing monitoring in March 2016, IMB members have found that Dover detention custody officers consistently treat detainees with care and respect. There were no apparent cases where force was used to restrain detainees. Immigration officers responsible for screening interviews and investigation also consistently demonstrate care and respect and try to minimise the length of time detainees have to spend in the holding room.
Although some issues have not been resolved or have taken an unnecessary amount of time to resolve, Home Office and Tascor managers have facilitated IMB members in carrying out their monitoring responsibilities and have responded positively to some suggestions put forward by the Board. Other concerns noted by the Board include:
Length of Detention The Minister is asked to agree that, given the very limited facilities in the holding room, detention over 24 hours should be rare and only authorised in exceptional circumstances.
Repairs and Maintenance of Essential Facilities The Home Office is asked what action
is being taken to ensure that failures in essential facilities such as showers, toilets and washbasins are repaired promptly.