The Independent Monitoring Board at The Verne present their second Annual Report since the establishment became an Immigration Removal Centre.
During the year there were two important events; the HMIP Inspection in March 2015, (report published in August) and the report of previous Prison and Probation Ombudsman, Stephen Shaw – who did a review of the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons and whose recommendations were published at the end of the year. The Board are pleased to note that many of these are already underway.
The Board commend the IRC staff for their transition from prison to IRC – it has been a steep learning curve for many former officers who have had to adapt to a less formal regime. Staff have been required to adopt a pastoral role towards detainees, particularly those who are vulnerable
There are however some serious concerns that the Board have expressed to the Immigration Minister. The large numbers of men transported during the night to The Verne remains a problem. The detention of men with serious mental health issues is another concern although we believe this is part of a national problem of too few in-patient mental health beds.
The Verne, like most other IRCs and Prisons, has seen a rise in the use of illegal drugs, in particular new psycho-active substances (NPS’s) and staff and the substance misuse team, fight a continual battle to keep these to a minimum
There are however, several very positive aspects which the Board highlight. We have seen several cultural events take place throughout the year which have been a huge success The Verne has excellent educational and vocational facilities where the detainees can undertake short courses which will assist them in finding employment for the future. There are also plenty of opportunities for exercise – the gym, the first-rate sporting facilities and playing field. Activities such as these encourage mutual respect between detainees and staff.
The IMB is satisfied that fairness and respect is a prime consideration for those in detention at The Verne.