Home Office statement following the publication of the Brook House Inquiry report.
A Home Office spokesperson said:
"The abuse that took place at Brook House in 2017 was unacceptable.
“The government has made significant improvements since then to uphold the welfare and dignity of those detained including strengthening safeguards, promoting a culture of transparency and improving the oversight of contractors’ performance.
“We remain committed to ensuring safety and security in all Immigration Removal Centres and to learn lessons from Brook House to ensure these events never happen again.
“We thank the Chair and Inquiry team for their report and are carefully considering every recommendation.”
Reforms since Brook House abuse:
- The Home Office has introduced significant reforms in detention since 2017, including:
- Improved and rigorous training for all IRC staff on the use of force, with regular monitoring and reviews on staff and providers’ training
- Introducing the Home Office Detention Gatekeeper to independently assess the suitability of those referred for detention
- Case Progression Panels to consider whether continuing detention is appropriate, including independent panel members
- More Home Office staff in IRCs, and a higher ratio of provider staff to detained individuals
- Putting an immediate stop to three people occupying rooms designed for two
- Reinforcing the use of whistleblowing mechanisms
- Rigorous oversight of our contractors ensuring any complaints, incidents or use of force are properly investigated by senior managers
- Improved training and support for staff working with vulnerable people
- The Home Office has implemented steps across the immigration removal estate to improve oversight of providers.
- We closely monitor performance of our providers across IRCs and accept nothing but the highest standards.
- Brook House’s Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) found in 2022 that residents at Brook House were generally within a safe environment
- In their 2022 annual report, the IMB noted that there had been a general improvement in governance and monitoring of safeguarding, with more attention to detail in management of the use of force.
The role of detention:
- Detention plays a vital role in maintaining immigration controls, removing those who have no right to remain in the UK but who refuse to leave voluntarily. This includes dangerous foreign national criminals.
- Decisions to detain are taken on a case-by-case basis.
- Published Home Office policy is clear that detention must be used sparingly and for the shortest period necessary.
- In the year ending June 2023, data shows 97% of those who left detention were detained for less than six months, 70% were detained for 28 days or less, and 38% were detained for seven days or less. Virtually all those held for more than six months are foreign national criminals.
Safeguarding and oversight:
- There are robust safeguarding measures in place to ensure anyone in detention is treated with dignity and has access to the support they need.
- All IRCs have dedicated health facilities run by doctors and nurses commissioned by NHS England and delivered to the equivalent standards as community health services.
- We have dedicated welfare teams in all sites who can escalate any instances of mental health or illness.
- Staff at all centres are trained to identify and prevent the risk of suicide and self-harm.
- Notices in various languages are displayed in all centres, to encourage any concerns about a fellow detained person to be brought to the attention of a member of staff.
- Staff are rigorously trained to ensure the safety of residents, including on the appropriate use of force.
- Force must only be used as a last resort, and for the shortest possible time.
- Physical force will be used only after a thorough risk assessment and in consideration of an individual’s personal circumstances.
- The Home Office reviews all reports resulting from a use of force to ensure that techniques are used proportionately and are used for the minimum period required.