A report by independent inspectors has made critical findings on the conditions for detainees at Heathrow removal centre.
Inspectors from the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) at Heathrow Immigration Removal Centre (HIRC) have issued their 2016 report.
The report shines a spotlight on the often miserable conditions for some 1,000 detainees being held each month under immigration powers at the HIRC.
The inspection team found the procedure for identifying claimed victims of torture, (known as ‘Rule 35’) is under considerable strain. Average wait times throughout the year have been around two weeks, although maximum wait times have exceeded a month on occasions, which is unacceptable.
The report recommendations stop short of calling for a 28-day time limit on detention, but include:
- a controlled facility for detainees to use Skype or other similar low/zero cost communication tools, to enable detainees to more effectively stay in touch with family and friends whilst in detention.
- a review system, independent of the immigration authorities, for all cases where detention exceeds 6 months. This would ensure that detention cannot become extended without independent scrutiny. IRCs were only designed for short stays of up to three months and the facilities and levels of care reflect this. The environment is not acceptable for prolonged stays.
- Segregation should not be used to house difficult individuals with mental health conditions. They are vulnerable and confinement is not a humane way to address the problems they experience. Home Office should consider undertaking a review of the scale of this issue across the Immigration Detention Estate and consider alternative options to managing their detention so that they receive better specialised care for their specific needs.