22 November 2021

Brook House inquiry will look at ‘systemic issues’ in UK immigration detention

22 November 2021

A public inquiry into allegations of abuse at Brook House immigration removal centre will focus on “systemic issues” around how people are treated in detention in the UK.

Inquiry chairman Kate Eves said her review into what happened at the then G4S-run site between April and August 2017 still had “huge relevance” to current Home Office policies.

The first phase of public hearings to consider evidence will begin on Tuesday and continue until early December. The second phase will take place in early 2022 and is expected to conclude by the spring, after which the inquiry will publish its findings.

Kate Eves (Brook House Inquiry) (PA Media)

In September 2017, a BBC Panorama programme broadcast undercover footage showing alleged assaults, humiliation and verbal abuse of detainees by officers.

Fourteen members of G4S staff were dismissed or resigned in the wake of the BBC broadcast.

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

Ms Eves told The Independent that while the probe was investigating “what happened in a very specific time and place”, it was focusing on “systemic issues around how people are treated in detention”.

“They still have huge relevance today. The issues that we’re looking at may well be relevant to broader Home Office policies around detention and the monitoring of contractors who may be delivering services in terms of detention and the Home Office themselves.”

The Home Office said detention is a necessary part of the UK’s immigration system and the department takes the wellbeing of those being detained extremely seriously.

The chief inspector of prisons found there was “no culture of abuse” among current staff at Brook House in a 2019 visit, but warned there was still a raft of improvements that needed to be made.

Private security firm G4S has since stopped running Brook House as well as Tinsley House, which are both next to Gatwick Airport in West Sussex, and outsourcing giant Serco took over in May last year.

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