Asylum seekers who have committed offences against children are
being held alongside women and children at an immigration removal
centre in west London, an inspection report published this week has
Managers at Harmondsworth said it was “inappropriate” that asylum
seekers who had committed offences against children or been
imprisoned for rape or violent offences were sent to the centre.
Staff were not made aware of who the offenders were.
At the time of inspection, 25 children were held there. Chief
inspector of prisons Anne Owers said the detention of children was
“an area of concern”, reiterating concerns found in previous
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, the report adds.
Although Harmondsworth was originally expected to accommodate 3,000
detainees a year, the report finds that the the centre was handling
12,000 people annually. These included people perceived as “control
problems” who were sent to Harmondsworth because of its secure
facilities. Although some of these were mentally ill, the
inspection found insufficient mental health support for detainees
held in the in-patient ward. Suicide, self-harm and anti-bullying
procedures were not managed effectively.