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Factsheet: Immigration detention and the response to coronavirus

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Immigration Enforcement is responding to the unique circumstances of the coronavirus outbreak and following the latest guidance from Public Health England.

During this time, the health and safety of our staff, and all those within the immigration system, is more important than ever.

On 26 March the High Court ruled that our approach to detention and coronavirus was sensible, with the appropriate precautionary measures in place.

The public expects that we maintain law and order and keep them safe from high-harm individuals, which is why the vast majority of those currently in detention are foreign national offenders.

Who is in detention?

  • We only detain people where it is absolutely necessary, with decisions made on a case-by-case basis and kept under constant review.
  • Our number one priority is to keep the public safe and maintain the lawful detention of the most high-harm individuals, including foreign national offenders.
  • As of the week commencing 23 March there were 736 people in detention, the vast majority of whom are foreign national offenders.

What measures are being taken to protect detainees and staff from coronavirus?

  • We are following all Public Health England guidance on coronavirus and have robust contingency plans in place including measures such as protective isolation.
  • Detainees arriving at immigration removal centres are medically assessed by a nurse within two hours of their arrival and a doctor within 24 hours.
  • All immigration removal centres have dedicated health facilities run by doctors and nurses which are managed by the NHS or appropriate providers.
  • Handwashing facilities are available in all immigration removal centres and we are working closely with suppliers to ensure adequate supply of soap and cleaning materials.
  • Appropriate personal protective equipment is available to contractor and healthcare staff when interacting with detainees being held in isolation.

What measures are in place in case a coronavirus outbreak occurs in immigration detention?

We have robust measures in place to deal with any cases of coronavirus in line with public health guidance.

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