Brooks immigration removal centre: inquiry finds detainees were mistreated in 'prison-like' conditions
A report into abuse at the facility in 2017, then operated by security firm G4S, has stated that detainees at Brook House immigration removal centre were mistreated by staff
Detainees at the Brook House immigration removal centre (IRC) were mistreated by staff and kept in "prison-like conditions" a new inquiry report had concluded.
The reported determined that Brook House IRC was “not sufficiently decent, secure or caring for detained people or its staff”. The inquiry was investigating reports of abuse at the facility in 2017, when it was operated by security firm G4S, following a BBC Panorama investigation into claims.
After the investigation was aired on the BBC in 2019, ten members of staff were dismissed or resigned. Outsourcing contractor Serco has since overtaken the running of the facility from G4S.
Inquiry chairwoman Kate Eves said that there were a total of 19 incidents of mistreatment which took place in 2017 between April and August. This included one incident, which was seen in the Panorama documentary, in which an office at the IRC place his hand around the neck of a male detainee and called him “f**king piece of shit”, adding: “I’m going to put you to f**king sleep."
Other incidents include staff initially standing and looking when found a detainee unconscious having attempted to self-harm "without trying to help". Reports of physical violence and incidences of male detainees naked or near-naked being forcibly moved were also included in the inquiry's report.
Ms Eves said: “Under the Home Office and its contractor, G4S, Brook House was not sufficiently decent, secure or caring for detained people or its staff at the time these events took place. An environment flourished in which unacceptable treatment became more likely.”
Ms Eves also refuted claims from the Home Office and G4S that "the events at Brook House were primarily the result of a small minority of G4S staff”, adding that his narrative “seeks to distance both organisations from their responsibility for the prevailing culture at the the time”.
She has recommended that “new comprehensive and mandatory rules for how force is used in IRCs is urgently needed”. However, the inquiry chairwoman stopped short of recommending the facility be closed down, despite pleas from one lawyer representing those held at the IRC.
A G4S spokesperson said they were “appalled when, in 2017, a number of former employees acted in a way that was contrary to our values, policies and their training, and for this we are sorry”.
A Home Office spokesperson said that the department found the incidences of abuse in 2017 as "unacceptable" and would be "carefully considering every recommendation” from the report. They added: “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.”