10 February 2012

Concerns over standards at UK immigration detention centre

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Despite significant improvements being made at a UK immigration detention centre, a recent report has raised concerns over the way detainees are treated at the centre near Gatwick Airport.

UK immigration

The report praised the detention centre but said 'significant concerns' remained.

The report, by the HM Inspectorate of Prisons, which comes after an inspection in September 2011, claimed detainees at the UK immigration detention centre are subjected to measures labelled 'excessively punitive' including separation, poor levels of activity and inadequate preparation for release.

The report claimed improvements had been made at Brook House compared to a previous inspection in early 2010 when the centre was said to be struggling to meet safety standards but that 'significant concerns remained'.

"Of significant concern was the excessive and often illegitimate use of the separation unit" wrote Nick Hardwick, chief inspector.

"At this unannounced follow-up inspection, we found substantial improvements. Detainees were safer and staff were more skilled in their interactions with detainees and better supported by managers. The centre provided a more settled and respectful overall environment."

The average period of detention for detainees at Brook House, which is capable of holding 426 males, is three months, though a significant number were found to have been there for over 10 months; one detainee from Zimbabwe was found to have been held for over four years.

A spokesperson for Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group said "long-term detention is a primary concern for us, as we support many people who have been held for many months and even years in detention, with little chance of their removal happening in a reasonable period, as the law dictates.

"Brook House is, and always will be, an unsuitable place for to hold people for any great length of time, as it was essentially designed to hold people for short periods only."

G4S, the company which runs Brook House and other facilities that hold asylum seekers while they await a UK visa, said they were pleased with the report but were aware of further changes which need to be made.

"We have worked hard to improve the safety, security and well-being of detainees at Brook House, and we are pleased this report has recognised the substantial improvements which have taken place since the last inspection.

"We recognise that challenges remain and we will be reviewing all the recommendations with a view to address outstanding issues."


The UK Visa Bureau is an independent UK immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.

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