Inspectors from HM Inspectorate of Prisons were met with poor conditions of safety in their recent inspection of the Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) in County Durham
Whilst Inspectors found many areas of good practice, including that the centre provided an excellent standard of healthcare as well as providing overall good care and support to the detainees held there, they expressed serious concerns over areas of safety which they described as requiring “urgent improvement”.
The areas of criticism in the report include the safeguarding processes for the extremely vulnerable women who were detained there and the process of monitoring those at risk of suicide and self-harm. One serious incident witnessed by inspectors involved a male member of staff being included in the process of carrying out constant supervision for a woman whose triggers for self-harm included the presence of men. Further concerns were expressed over the oversight of the use of force and the recording of data and the documentation of monitoring the most vulnerable detainees.
The chief inspector of prisons, Charlie Taylor, commented:
‘Overall the picture at Derwentside was very positive with some really impressive work being done. But this was undermined by gaps in crucial processes relating to safety that just aren’t good enough given the vulnerable women detained there. There is also a real risk that, as the number of women held there rises, the fragilities that our inspection identified could lead to real harm. The centre’s leadership, the central Mitie team and the Home Office must act on this.’
A Home Office spokesperson responded to the report saying that: ‘Steps are already being taken to address the recommendations in the report, and we are working closely with partners and contractors to ensure the services provided, including safeguarding, are of the highest standard.’
The IRC was holding 25 women at the time of its last inspection.