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High Court case orders public inquiry into conditions in UK Immigration Removal Centre

Mrs Justice May in the recent case of MA and BB v Secretary of State for the Home Department has ordered a full public inquiry into the conditions within Brook House Immigration Removal Centre (IRC), operated by private contractor G4S.

The court heard accounts from two former detainees, MA and BB, of physical and emotional abuse during their stay at Brook House.

The case comes following an infamous BBC Panorama investigation into the conditions in the removal centre, which was aired in September 2017. A number of staff involved in the allegations subsequently resigned or were removed from employment with G4S, including the director of Brook House, Ben Saunders, with the firm ordering an internal review.

The Judge in the case noted that neither visitors from the Home Office or HM Prison Inspectorate noticed anything was wrong inside Brook House. This is deeply concerning given the evidence shown in the Panorama documentary, which lays bare brutal abuses being routinely committed by staff of all levels. In one unsettling scene, one detainee is choked by a member of staff.

The conditions in Brook House have been deftly exposed through film but the plight of detainees within other IRCs is too often ignored. It is little surprise, then, given such dire conditions together with a lingering sense of limbo and dread for fear of being returned to countries where many are genuinely at risk, a frightening number of detainees are driven to drug abuse, self-harm and even suicide. A recent Guardian article shows, courtesy of a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office, that in the summer of 2018 suicide attempts by detainees rose by 22%. Monitoring by charity INQUEST shows 36 people have died in immigration detention since 2000, in a mixture between self-inflicted and non-self-inflicted deaths.

There is also a lot to be desired when it comes to the business culture and practice of contractors, especially given the propensity for abhorrent conduct within the facilities they run. G4S is routinely in the press – and all for the wrong reasons. A recent BBC article quotes a National Audit Office report on G4S’ profits in relation to Brook House. Between 2012 – 2018, the company made £14.3 million in profit from running the facility.

If you have experienced the death of a family member or loved one whilst they were held in immigration detention, do not hesitate to contact us on 020 3131 8515.

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