19 September 2023

Brook House inquiry findings to be published after abuse claims

19 September 2023

The findings of a public inquiry into allegations of abuse at a UK detention centre are due to be published.

Evidence given during the investigation into claims about what went on at Brook House immigration removal centre between April and August 2017 was described as “harrowing”.

The inquiry into the West Sussex centre was launched after BBC’s Panorama programme broadcast undercover footage in September of that year showing alleged assaults, humiliation and verbal abuse of detainees by officers at the then G4S-run site.

No prosecutions were brought after a police investigation, but two former detainees successfully argued a full independent investigation was needed.

G4S stopped running Brook House as well as Tinsley House, which are both next to Gatwick Airport, with outsourcing giant Serco having taken over in 2020.

The inquiry held its first full hearing in November 2021 and ran until April 2022.

During the hearings, the Home Office’s director of immigration detention and escorting services Phil Riley apologised to detainees involved in the “distressing incidents” exposed by Panorama and over “failures” in the Brook House contract.

Behind each and every one of those ciphers is a human being who should have been treated with respect and dignity

A lawyer representing people who were held at Brook House told the inquiry it should be shut down after “shocking patterns of inhumane and degrading treatment” were uncovered.

Inquiry chairwoman Kate Eves closed the hearings last year noting that evidence heard and footage played had shown “men suffering mistreatment, and in distressing situations” while transcripts contained “swearing and abusive language directed at detainees”.

She said: “Although for reasons of necessity we’ve had to refer to those formerly detained men at Brook House using ciphers, I want to emphasise that at the very centre of this inquiry are the men who were detained at Brook House.

“I would like to conclude my remarks by acknowledging that behind each and every one of those ciphers is a human being who should have been treated with respect and dignity, and neither I nor the wider inquiry have lost sight of that.”

The findings are due to be published at midday when Ms Eves will deliver an accompanying statement at Dorland House, in Paddington, west London.

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