Protest at Yarl's Wood Detention Centre, August 2015. By Darren Johnson / iDJ Photography via Flickr
An independent review into the welfare of vulnerable people in immigration detention has called for the Government to reduce “boldly and without delay” the number of people detained.
In the review Stephen Shaw, former prisons ombudsman, makes 64 recommendations for reform, including that pregnant women should never be detained, and that victims of rape and sexual violence should not be detained.
The report found that “people with serious mental illness continue to be held in detention and that their treatment and care does not and cannot equate to good psychiatric practice… Such a situation is an affront to civilised values.” Shaw was ‘particularly concerned by the evidence that detention, as a painful reminder of past traumatic experience, can trigger re-traumatisation.’
"There is too much detention; detention is not a particularly effective means of ensuring that those with no right to remain do in fact leave the UK; and many practices and processes associated with detention are in urgent need of reform," Shaw said in his conclusions.
The Refugee Council welcomed the report, saying he had shone a spotlight on the hidden, abhorrent and often unlawful treatment of vulnerable people inside Britain’s shadowy immigration estate.
Freedom from Torture described it as a “stunning indictment” of immigration detention, and said he had vindicated their concerns about the operation of rule 35 doctors’ reports.
Detention Action said the report “presents a grim but compelling picture of a detention system that is not working, has never worked, and is causing irreparable harm to some of the most vulnerable people in our society”.
The immigration minister, James Brokenshire has accepted the “broad thrust” of the recommendations, but has made no commitment to implement them all.
The six-month review was commissioned by the home secretary, Theresa May, after years of criticism about the treatment of immigration detainees including incidents of deaths, self-harm and sexual abuse in Britain’s 10 immigration removal centres.
The Shaw report is be followed by a fresh cross-party attempt to amend the current immigration bill to include a statutory 28-day time limit on the use of immigration detention.