Report into Dover Immigration Removal Centre reveals support could be better
Staff at the Dover Immigration Removal Centre
provide a reasonably safe environment but need to improve support
to detainees in preparation for removal, release or transfer.
That’s the finding of chief inspector of
prisons Nick Hardwick in a report on an announced inspection of the
centre in Dover.
At its last inspection, there was concern that
Dover was developing too much of a prison-like culture.
Inspectors were glad to find that this was not
the case in general, except for unnecessary amounts of razor wire
within the perimeter.
Inspectors also found that self-harm was low
and the use of force and separation had reduced.
Dover provided a range of work and education
opportunities, although they were poorly coordinated and there was
not enough activity for the significant numbers of detainees who
stayed at the centre for long periods.
Mr Hardwick said: “The main safety concern for
detainees, as in other IRCs, was their anxiety about their
Inspectors were concerned to find that on-site
UK Border Agency induction interviews were poor and reviews of
detention were uninformative and sometimes late.
Mr Hardwick said: “Dover holds a large
proportion of ex-prisoners in a rather forbidding site. It was,
nevertheless, providing a reasonably safe and decent environment
and a range of activities for detainees, a third of whom spent over
four months there.”
He said there were two main issues that needed
to be addressed. One, for the Prison Service, was the absence of
internet and email access and of sufficient coordinated welfare
support, to help with practical problems and prepare detainees for
release or removal.
The other, for UKBA, was the poor quality of
on-site information for and response to, detainees who were
extremely concerned about the progress of their cases.
The Refugee Council has welcomed the Chief
Inspector of Prisons inspection report on Dover Immigration Removal
Centre, and has said detention should be used as a last resort.
Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee
Council, said: “This welcome report is further evidence that asylum
seekers in detention are being denied access to justice.
"Without legal advice and access to
information to help inform them of their situation, how can
detainees know if their case is progressing, and be sure of what
their rights are?
“It is unacceptable that some people at Dover
IRC have been in detention for over four years with no prospect of
being removed due to poor management of their cases.
"Where detention is used, it must only be used
as a last resort, and for the shortest time possible."
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