The main objective of the visit was to examine the treatment and conditions of detention of persons held under immigration legislation, both in immigration removal centres (IRCs) and in prison establishments.
The CPT found that there were many good practices being promoted in the IRCs visited to render the period of detention the least traumatic possible. However, the CPT again found that this was not helped by the uncertainty of the length of detention and the use of prison-like immigration detention centres such as Brook House and Colnbrook. The CPT considers that there is scope for improvements to be made including as regards the conditions of detention, the reception and induction process, the Adults at Risk policy and staffing issues.
The commitment to have in place a clear policy to ensure that vulnerable persons are not held in detention when it is injurious to their well-being is positive. However, more needs to be done to ensure that the “Rule 35” process of the Detention Centre Rules (2001) and Adults at Risk policy operate effectively. The report states that where it is recognised that detention is harmful for a person and there is no imminent prospect of removal from the UK, rapid steps should be taken to release that person. The report calls for an improvement in the processes to ensure that persons with a severe mental disorder are transferred without delay to a psychiatric hospital where they can receive the appropriate treatment. The CPT also highlights that steps must be taken to improve the flow of information and to remove the uncertainty surrounding the future of persons detained in IRCs.
The CPT once again reiterates its position that Time Served Foreign National Offenders, who are held in detention under immigration legislation once they have served their sentence, should be transferred from prison to an immigration centre in line with their new legal status. Further, the conditions of detention and the support provided to these persons in prison remain far inferior to those on offer in the immigration detention estate.
The report recalls that it is the duty of the CPT as a preventive body to alert governments to issues where it considers that persons may be exposed to torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In this respect, the report states that the Illegal Migration Bill 2023 and the Agreement with Rwanda both raised multiple concerns over the treatment of vulnerable persons and the removal of foreign nationals to a country where they may be exposed to treatment contrary to Article 3 of the ECHR.
In their response, the United Kingdom authorities provide information on the measures taken to implement the recommendations made in the CPT’s report, notably around the treatment of vulnerable detained persons, staff support and living conditions.
The CPT report and the response of the authorities have been made public at the request of the United Kingdom Government.