Yarlswood detention centre has been described today as a centre of ‘national concern’.
In a report published today by HM’s Inspectorate on Prisons during an unannounced visit to the centre, it was found that:
- Of the 99 pregnant women who were held at Yarl’s Wood last year, only nine were removed.
- Fifteen detainees had been held for between six months and a year. Four were detained for more than a year, the longest being 17 months.
Manchester Migrant Solidarity welcomes the findings and recommendations of Nick Hardwick in this report. Some of our members have been detained in yarlswood several times:
“This HIMP report on yarlswood reechoes the whole raft of concerns of human rights abuses inside yarlswood detention centre which we have been exposing since 2012. It’s no surprise that the report recognises need for time limit and that most vulnerable women aren’t detained.
It’s evident that detention ruins lives (detainees, their families and friends). It is comparable to a concentration camp. No reforms can change the long lasting devastating effects it causes on human lives. We strongly call on the government to implement the recommendations of the APPG detention inquiry“.
In its coverage of the report today, The BBC says:
Conditions have deteriorated at an immigration removal centre to such an extent that it is a “place of national concern”, the prisons watchdog says.
Nick Hardwick, chief prisons inspector, said Yarl’s Wood, in Bedfordshire, was failing vulnerable women.
He said the concerns showed women, including pregnant ones, should be detained only as a last resort.
Mr Hardwick’s report suggests that conditions have worsened since inspectors last visited two years ago. More than half of the detainees who were surveyed said they felt unsafe.
Mr Hardwick said that while a total of 443 women held at the centre were removed from the UK in the six months before the inspection, just over twice that number were released back to the community.
Mr Hardwick called for a “strict time limit” on how long anyone can be detained. “Yarl’s Wood is rightly a place of national concern. While there have been instances of unacceptable individual behaviour, most staff work hard to mitigate the worst effects of detention and women told us they appreciated this.
“These are issues that need to be addressed at a policy and strategic management level. We have raised many of the concerns in this report before.”Decisive action is needed to ensure that women are only detained as a last resort. Other well-respected bodies have recently called for time limits on administrative detention, and the concerns we have identified provide strong support for these calls.”
Yarl’s Wood holds more than 350 detainees, most of them single women, who are waiting for their immigration status to be resolved. More details here