Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) today published their reports on Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) and the adjacent pre-departure accommodation (which holds detained families).  You can read both reports and HMIP’s accompanying press release here.


We welcome HMIP’s detailed inspection and report, and wholeheartedly support the majority of recommendations made, most notably that ‘there should be a time limit on the length of detention.’


We note that many aspects of care at the centre contain considerable areas for concern.  Of the 60 recommendations HMIP made on its previous report on Tinsley House in 2014, 30 have still not been actioned.  These outstanding measures include important recommendations calling for improved healthcare access, internet access, and the safeguarding of detainees’ safety on leaving the centre.


One of the most concerning aspects of the present report is the ongoing detention of vulnerable people and the continued failures of the Rule 35 system.  HMIP looked into ten detainee cases; in eight of these cases the Home Office had identified the detainee as being a victim of torture but continued to detain them.  We believe that no vulnerable person should be detained.  Where vulnerability is identified after a person has already been detained, they should be released without delay.  Our submissions to Stephen Shaw’s recent review into detention detail our own research into the continuing detention of vulnerable people at the Gatwick IRCs.


The report into the pre-departure accommodation (PDA) found that 19 families had been held there between the PDA’s opening in May 2017 and HMIP’s inspection in April 2018.  Of these families, only 4 were eventually removed from the UK, showing clearly that children continue to be detained regularly and as far from a ‘last resort’.  As HMIP note, this is very troubling ‘given the harmful effect that arrest and detention inevitably has on children’.  We do not believe the continuing detention of children to be justified.


We welcome such improvements in conditions as have taken place, and the finding that Tinsley House is relatively ‘calm and stable’ compared to other centres visited.  However, no local measures can change the fundamental injustice and mental cruelty of indefinite detention in the UK.  This country continues to be the only nation in Europe that detains people indefinitely on immigration grounds.  GDWG calls for an immediate time limit of 28 days, an end to the detention of vulnerable people, full judicial oversight of detention, and the introduction of community-based alternatives to detention.