Owers slams use of staves at centre

The chief inspector of prisons has criticised Lindholme immigration removal centre for its practice of staff routinely carrying wooden staves, in a report this week.

Anne Owers said staves were inappropriate and not required to deal with detainees.

The centre is run by the Prison Service and located next door to HMP Lindholme in Doncaster. Owers said that the carrying of staves contrasted badly with private sector-run immigration centres where this did not take place.

She added that although the centre had made significant progress since her last inspection in 2004 it was still not “sufficiently separated” from the prison with staff still continuing to wear prison uniform and being dependent on the prison for a range of support functions.

Other issues highlighted by Owers’ inspection, which took place from 16 to 20 January, included a lack of good and accessible legal advice for detainees and the insufficiency of their weekly allowance of 2.50, which was not high enough to cover international phone calls.

The report also criticised arrangements to prepare detainees for release. Although local voluntary groups tried to help with these, there were no dedicated welfare staff to work on release preparations and detainees had no access to email, the internet or mobile phones.

Home office minister Liam Byrne said an action plan was being drawn up in response to the inspection to bring about further improvements at the centre.

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