Home   Maidstone   News   Article

Prisoners at HMP Maidstone detained past release date due to delays in Home Office immigration process

Hundreds of foreign national prisoners are being held past their sentence due to ongoing delays in the immigration system.

In its annual report, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) at HMP Maidstone has raised concerns over the humane treatment of people which it believes could be significantly improved by the Home Office.

The findings said long-standing and continuing delays and uncertainty around end-of-sentence arrangments are leading to increased anxiety and negative behaviour among prisoners.

It states: “The most significant question relating to fair and humane treatment is the uncertainty caused by the application of the immigration system.”

The report added there are “too many people” who are eligible for removal and wish to return to their own country but cannot do so due to the processing delays by the Home Office.

Between March 2022 and February this year, 232 prisoners had passed their early removal scheme but remained at the category C prison in County Road, Maidstone which caters for up to 600 adult male foreign nationals who have no less than three and no more than 27 months left to serve of their sentence.

The chairman of IMB Maidstone, David Skinner, said: “Every day in the prison, members of the IMB see the real and immediate consequences of the Home Office’s failure to clear their backlogs.

“Significant improvements could be made to the fair and humane treatment of people in HMP Maidstone if these backlogs could be cleared. While there has been some progress, more needs to be done.”

HMP Maidstone only holds foreign nationals. Picture: Guy Bell
HMP Maidstone only holds foreign nationals. Picture: Guy Bell

Speaking to kmfm, he explained this is an issue the board has been raising for many years and said it not only adds strains to the prisoner and their families but the taxpayer who is paying to keep them in the facility.

He added: “The Home Office were able to move quite quickly, it is surprising this was not done earlier.

“I hope in the future the Home Office will move fast to clear the remaining backlogs and never allow one to build up again.

“It is unfair on the individual prisoners and it is unfair on the British taxpayer who is paying for it.”

The report also highlighted that the communication between the government department and prisoners was poor as they are required to sign key documents that are only available in English which many may not wholly understand.

It said: “Even though prison staff work hard to minimise language barriers. Sometimes these can result in significant problems...This is unfair and an avoidable source of stress and anxiety.”

It recommended the minister worked with the Home Office to provide documents in the prisoner's language or one they understand.

Concerns were raised over the lack of activites
Concerns were raised over the lack of activites

Another key concern, the report raised was the lack of activity places within the prison which impacts their resettlement.

There are 400 spots available, leaving around a third of prisoners without any form of meaningful activity, education, or training, yet it was noted the facility is looking to improve this.

Despite this, the board found HMP Maidstone to be a safe prison, well run, with low violence levels and said prisoners have a good relationship with staff and each other.

It also said staff work hard with limited resources to support those they have responsibility for.

A government spokesperson said: “Foreign national offenders who exploit our system will face the full force of the law, and the government is wholly committed to increasing the number removed from our prisons.

“All foreign national offenders sentenced to custody are referred to us at the earliest opportunity to be considered for deportation.

“It is vital that detention and removal are carried out with dignity and respect.

“Policies and procedures are in place to safeguard vulnerable people and we remain committed to further improving these.”

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More