Immigration centres housing unsuccessful asylum seekers are failing
to provide appropriate mental health care for detainees or adequate
services for children.
Speaking after the publication of the first five inspection reports
produced by the prison inspectorate into four immigration removal
centre and one immigration reception centre, chief inspector of
prisons Anne Owers said: “We didn’t find a high level of mental
health support in the centres or a lot of understanding about the
psychological trauma these people had been through.”
The reports say that asylum seekers at Campsfield House, Tinsley
House and Haslar who were seriously mentally ill but not
sectionable “remained in a custodial rather than therapeutic
Mental health provision at the Oakington immigration reception
centre was criticised by the inspectors for relying on
self-assessment and lacking routine mental health screening. The
report says: “There is a limited service from the local psychiatric
hospital but staff report a high prevalence of insomnia, anxiety
and panic which remained largely unaddressed.”
Strip searches were carried out on all detained asylum seekers at
the Lindholme and Haslar centres, where detainees complained they
were conducted insensitively and unprofessionally.
Children of detained asylum seekers at the Tinsley House centre
were left in a holding room unattended while their parents where
dealt with. At Oakington there were no facilities for children aged
over 12 who were left to “roam the centre under the theoretical
supervision of a parent”.
The prison inspectorate recommends children should be detained for
no more than seven days and that those centres holding children
need “robust child protection safeguard and effective liaison with
local area child protection committees”.
Home Office minister Beverley Hughes has criticised some of the
reports’ findings for reflecting only the comments of detainees.
“As people are generally unhappy about being detained, it is
unsurprising that they express dissatisfaction with their
situation,” she said.
Meanwhile a Home Office internal inquiry into the suicide of a
detained asylum seeker who was mentally ill has strongly criticised
Harmondsworth immigration removal centre, west London, for not
having a formal suicide prevention policy.
– Reports from