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Centre 'must address health needs of immigrants'

Dover's asylum screening centre is based at the Eastern Docks. Picture: GRAHAM TUTTHILL
Dover's asylum screening centre is based at the Eastern Docks. Picture: GRAHAM TUTTHILL

A CENTRE in Dover which holds asylum seekers on a short-term basis is unaware of the health needs of immigrants staying there.

That is the finding of a Prison Service report into conditions at several short-term asylum screening centres in the south-east.

The report, released by the chief inspector of prisons, Ann Owers, says the Dover Asylum Screening Centre, which is based at the Eastern Docks, needs to undertake an assessment of the health needs of the detainee population passing through the centre.

Ms Owers found there was no on-site health care provision at the centre, even though it held detainees with suspected health problems.

Another recommendation was that detainees should have facilities to wash themselves and their clothing soon after being detained.

The centre is run by the Prison Service on behalf of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) and the unannounced inspection took place in the summer.

Numbers passing through the centre are unpredictable and the centre operates on a 24-hour basis. The centre is a starting point for processing the asylum claims of claimants in the area - many being detected within or near the port travelling clandestinely in lorries.

Immigrants are taken to the centre where initial information such as fingerprints and personal details are recorded.

The report adds that significant improvements have taken place at the Dover centre.

In 2005 a similar report recommended that the centre should not be used for overnight stays unless proper facilities were in place.

The latest report found this had been addressed as the centre now operated in conjunction with the nearby Port of Dover short-term facility. Detainees were able to use the neighbouring facility as a dormitory and a waiting room.

The centre has also installed television and has added toys for children, since the 2005 report but the latest report added that signs detailing the rules of the centre should be on display in common languages.

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