Anne Owers slams prisons over foreign prisoner system

Chief inspector of prisons Anne Owers today launched a scathing attack on the system for detaining foreign prisoners, saying it contributed to rising levels of self-harm in the second half of 2006.

Her report found that 19 of 22 detainees interviewed were depressed or considering self-harm because of uncertainty over when they would be deported, the difficulty in obtaining information and the experience of indefinite detention beyond sentence expiry dates.

Anne Owers said problems identified in a report last July by the prisons inspectorate, such as the absence of processes to identify foreign nationals and cater for their needs, remained.

She said: “The treatment of foreign national prisoners over recent years has been an object lesson in systems and procedures that lacked both efficiency and humanity.”

Today’s study was based on information from inspections and independent monitoring boards, which monitor custodial conditions, in August and September 2006, though inspections up to January 2007 showed the problems had continued.

However, Owers said that since then systems had been put in place to tackle the problems.

Director general of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate Lin Homer said: “I welcome this report and I am pleased that it recognises some of the improvements that have been made to the system. I would point out that it is based on a sample of 22 individuals, from seven months ago.”


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