Kent

Quick Dover immigration centre closure 'failed' detainees

  • 21 March 2016
  • From the section Kent

The speed of an immigration unit's closure meant detainees were not treated with "dignity and respect" during transfers, it has been claimed.

The Home Office shut the removal centre in Dover at the end of October, just two weeks after it announced the decision.

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) wrote to immigration minister James Brokenshire to express its "concern".

He said up to 300 detainees were moved "in line with standard procedures".

The correspondence from IMB board chair Peter Finnimore was included in its final report on Dover Immigration Removal Centre, which was published on Monday.

'Poor condition'

Mr Finnimore said the board was concerned over the "speed with which the centre was closed and the way in which the transfer of detainees was managed".

He added: "The board is required to satisfy itself regarding the humane and respectful treatment of detainees.

"We consider the way the rapid dispersal was undertaken was a failure to treat detainees with dignity and respect."

He acknowledged the centre was in a "poor condition" and was not located near airports so detainees could be removed quickly.

But he added: "More notice should have been given and more thought should have been given to treating detainees and the staff who were caring for them with dignity and respect, rather giving priority to the convenience of the Home Office."

'Risk assessed'

Mr Brokenshire replied: "The number of detainees was reduced in the run-up to the closure of the IRC [Immigration Removal Centre] and there was a balance to be struck between the rate of transfer and the maintenance of the centre's regime.

"The Home Office strategy for population management means that all detainees are risk assessed prior to coming into the estate and when transferred.

"Those remaining detainees who moved from the centre were transferred in line with standard procedures used for all sites."

He also said the site was closed, with all staff being offered positions elsewhere.

Dover was run by the Prison Service and held appellant and failed asylum seekers until it was closed.

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