An inquiry into mistreatment at an immigration removal centre has called for a 28-day time limit for holding detainees.
The public inquiry into Brook House, near Gatwick Airport, found a “toxic” culture among staff at the site.
It followed a series of probes triggered by a BBC Panorama investigation in 2017.
Inquiry chair Kate Eves recommended that the government change the law to limit detention at such centres.
There is currently no maximum period detainees can be held while they wait to be deported or fight for asylum.
The Brook House Inquiry Report found it to be a place of “stress and distress”.
The inquiry identified 19 instances over a five-month period that amounted to mistreatment contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects you from inhumane, degrading treatment or punishment.
The 19 instances of mistreatment identified by the inquiry included:
- Inappropriate use of force against 10 detainees
- Forcibly moving detainees while naked or near naked
- Unnecessary pain used on four detainees
- Dangerous restraint techniques used on four detainees
- Use of inappropriate and humiliating comments against two detainees during suicide attempts
- Homophobic comments against one detainee
- Initially failing to help a detainee after a suicide attempt
Ms Eves said: “Brook House was not sufficiently decent, secure or caring for detained people or its staff at a time when these events took place.”
She said it was “entirely unsuitable for detaining people for anything other than a short period of time”.
The chair has made 33 recommendations which, if implemented, will ensure what happened at Brook House does not happen in the future and provide a more humane, compassionate and professional environment, the report said.
The report said that the indefinite nature of immigration detention caused “uncertainty and anxiety” for detained people, which was detrimental to their physical and mental wellbeing.
The centre was found to be overcrowded, dirty and noisy from aircraft at nearby Gatwick, while there were limited activities for detainees and prolific use of the so-called zombie drug Spice, with evidence custody officers were bringing it into the centre.
Some detainees are former foreign national criminals scheduled for deportation, while others are asylum seekers or people refused the right to remain in the UK.
Ms Eves’ report found staff had used inappropriate and dangerous force. In some incidents, teams of custody officers carried detainees naked and screaming through Brook House.
The report also found there was abusive and racist language used, including in two cases where detainees were trying to kill themselves.
The BBC began investigation in 2016 when Callum Tulley, an 18-year-old custody officer at Brook House, contacted Panorama.
He was encouraged by a BBC Panorama documentary aired that month about the abuse of teenage prisoners at Medway Secure Training Centre in Rochester, Kent.
The centre can house more than 500 men and has the same security as a Category B prison.
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- UK immigration
- Refugees and asylum seekers
- Gatwick Airport
- Detention centres
Related Internet Links
Brook House Inquiry