Owers says holding centres falling short

Systemic problems remain at four immigration short-term holding centres, the chief inspector of prisons warned this week.

 Anne Owers said that, although the conditions at Colnbrook, near Heathrow Airport, Reliance House and John Lennon  Airport, Liverpool, and Sandford House, Solihull, had improved since inspections began in 2004, some needs were still not  being met.

She said she was concerned by the absence of regular, visiting health provision at the three non-residential centres in Liverpool and Solihull, particularly as self-harm incidents and uses of force had been recorded at Reliance House.

The facilities instead relied on the emergency services.

The centres held children and families for short periods, and children were a significant proportion of the population in two of them.

The inspectors found evidence that staff needed training in the care and protection of children, and said the accommodation needed to be reorganised so that it could house both adults and children.

Owers added that the Colnbrook centre avoided some of the problems noted in the others because it was managed by an immigration removal centre, so detainees had access to other services.

However, they still spent unacceptably long periods locked in “single rooms, she added.”


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