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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

FACTSHEET: Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre

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Nationality and Borders Bill – the New Plan for Immigration

  • The Nationality and Borders Bill is the cornerstone of the government’s New Plan for Immigration, delivering the most comprehensive reform in decades to fix the broken asylum system. The Bill – and the wider plan – has 3 key objectives:
    • To make the system fairer and more effective so that we can better protect and support those in genuine need of asylum.
    • To deter illegal entry into the UK breaking the business model of criminal trafficking networks and saving lives.
    • To remove from the UK those with no right to be here.

Immigration detention

  • Immigration detention makes a limited but essential contribution to tackling illegal migration and protecting the public.
  • Decisions to detain are taken on a case by case basis. Published Home Office detention policy is clear that detention must only ever be used sparingly and for the shortest period necessary. There is a presumption in favour of liberty for all individuals and 95% of those facing removal are managed in the community.
  • In order for detention to be lawful, there must be a realistic prospect of removal within a reasonable timescale. This is set out in both legislation and domestic case law. We are held to account on this by the courts, and there are a series of safeguards, such as regular reviews of detention, case progression panels and automatic bail hearings to ensure proper and continuing scrutiny of decisions to detain.

The immigration removal estate

  • The Home Office now operates seven immigration removal centres (IRCs), including Derwentside IRC, throughout the UK, (six in England and one in Scotland) and two residential short-term holding facilities (STHF) (one in Northern Ireland and one in England) operated under private contract.
  • The estate is kept under review to ensure that the Home Office has sufficient resilience, geographical footprint and capacity for the men and women it is necessary to detain for the purposes of removal, while providing value for money.
  • We plan to supplement the Derwentside IRC by continuing to provide some limited detention capacity for women at Yarl’s Wood (Bedford), Colnbrook (Heathrow) and Dungavel (Scotland) IRCs in order to provide flexibility in placement and shorter escorting journeys for those in detention.

Services and facilities in immigration removal centres

  • All IRCs have dedicated health facilities run by doctors and nurses managed by the NHS or appropriate providers. Detained individuals arriving at IRCs are medically assessed by a nurse within two hours of their arrival and offered an appointment with a doctor within 24 hours. Individuals also have access to medical assistance throughout their stay at an IRC.
  • Welfare teams at each IRC support detained individuals in accessing other means of support specific to their needs and also provide assistance to plan their re-integration and resettlement in the country of return.
  • The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) operates free legal advice surgeries in IRCs in England. Individuals who are detained are entitled to receive up to 30 minutes of advice regardless of financial eligibility or the merits of their case. Legal visits and email, phone, video-call contact can be arranged seven days a week.
  • All individuals in IRCs are also provided with a mobile phone and have access to landline telephones on request, fax machines, email and video-calling facilities which can be used to contact legal advisers, family and friends.

Oversight and inspection

  • We take the welfare and safety of people in our care very seriously and will accept nothing but the highest standards from service providers contracted to manage the removal estate and the escorting process.
  • The rights of all detained individuals are safeguarded by the Detention Centre Rules 2001, published Operating Standards for Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs) and individuals under escort and Detention Services Orders, a strong framework which includes specific guidance on women in detention. Derwentside will be operated in line with these regulations.
  • Independent scrutiny is a vital part of assurance that our detention facilities are safe, secure and humane. Robust statutory oversight is provided by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons and Independent Monitoring Boards (IMB) in each centre, ensuring that detained individuals are treated with proper standards of care and decency. An IMB has been established for Derwentside IRC.

Derwentside IRC

  • The Home Office acquired the former Hassockfield Secure Training Centre in County Durham and have now opened it as an immigration removal centre for women. By utilising an existing secure site, the Home Office is delivering the most cost-effective option for maintaining immigration detention capacity, as part of its plans to manage the closure and return of the Morton Hall immigration removal centre to Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service.
  • Derwentside will replace Yarl’s Wood as the main IRC for detained women and is a new, smaller, facility that will maintain the standards and high expectations for the detention of around 80 women.
  • Derwentside will hold a mixture of time-served foreign national offenders and immigration offenders while we prepare to remove them from the UK.
  • The site will have a full range of recreational and healthcare facilities tailored to women.
  • Visits will be facilitated in line with those in other centres. Visitors arriving at the nearest main train station will be transported to the centre.

The operation of Derwentside IRC

  • Mitie Care & Custody Ltd has been appointed to manage Derwentside IRC. The 2-year contract was signed on 4 June 2021. More information about the contract award can be found here on GOV.UK.
  • The workforce requirements will reflect the lessons learned from detaining women at Yarl’s Wood IRC and will include a ratio of female to male custodial staff that is appropriate for the specific needs of women in detention.
  • All staff working with women must receive appropriate gender specific training (such as the protocol for entry to bedrooms), in addition to generic training received during initial training. Appropriate refresher training will also be undertaken, to include equality and diversity, human trafficking and modern slavery.

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