Harmondsworth immigration centre branded ‘unsafe’

Asylum seekers who have committed offences against children are
being held alongside women and children at an immigration removal
centre in London, an inspection report of the centre published this
week has found, writes Clare Jerrom.

Centre managers at Harmondsworth said they
thought it was “inappropriate” that they were sent
deportees who had committed offences against children or been
imprisoned for rape or violent offences.

Staff were not made aware who the offenders
were. At the time of inspection, there were 25 children being held

The chief inspector of prisons, Anne Owers,
branded their detention as “an area of concern”,
reiterating previous concerns highlighted in inspection reports of
Dungavel, Oakington and Tinsley House.

The centre was “essentially an unsafe
place both for staff and detainees”, as a result of the
diversity and constant flux of the population, level of staff
supervision and physical environment.

Although Harmondsworth was originally expected
to accommodate 3,000 detainees a year, the centre was handling
12,000 people annually, including people perceived as
“control problems” who were sent to Harmondsworth
because of its secure facilities.

Some of these people were mentally ill, but
the inspection found that there was insufficient mental health
support for detainees held in the in-patient ward. Although there
was an average of one self-harm incident a week, suicide, self-harm
and anti-bullying procedures were not effectively managed.

There had been several cases of reported
injuries sustained by detainees during failed removals while in the
care of the escort contractor and Owers said these claims should be
“fully investigated”.


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