19 March 2024

Government rejects key Brook House mistreatment inquiry recommendation

19 March 2024

The Government has rejected an inquiry’s key recommendation made to prevent a repeat of the inhumane treatment experienced by migrants in the Brook House immigration centre scandal.

Chairwoman Kate Eves said she was “concerned” her inquiry’s recommendations had not been accepted in full after the Home Office published its formal response to her findings.

Ms Eves concluded there had been 19 incidents of mistreatment against detainees at the detention centre near Gatwick Airport in West Sussex over a five-month period in 2017.

Making a raft of recommendations for improvement in September – including introducing a 28-day detention time limit – she warned more people held in immigration removal centres could face inhumane treatment if the measures were ignored, while reiterating how past calls for Government reform had fallen on deaf ears.

At the time of the inquiry’s final report, then home secretary Suella Braverman acknowledged the “failings in both oversight and governance to protect the welfare of detained individuals” at the centre and promised her department would “carefully consider the findings”.

But in its response, published on Tuesday, the Home Office said: “The Government does not accept the recommendation that it should set a time limit on detention.

“A time limit would significantly impair the ability to remove those who have breached immigration laws and refused to leave the UK voluntarily.

“The Illegal Migration Act makes it clear that immigration detention must only be used for a period of time that is reasonably necessary, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, for the relevant immigration function to be carried out.”

When asked by the PA news agency for her thoughts on the Government’s response to her findings, Ms Eves said: “I am concerned that the inquiry’s recommendations have not been accepted in full; in particular the recommendation of a 28-day time limit on detaining people in environments designed as prisons.

“As I stated in my report, it is my view that the inquiry’s recommendations need to be implemented in order to prevent any repeat of the kind of unacceptable mistreatment that took place in Brook House.”

The Government said it accepted and has implemented the “majority” of the inquiry’s recommendations and insisted it had “already made significant improvements to uphold the welfare and dignity of detainees”.

“The abuse that took place at Brook House in 2017 was unacceptable and we are committed to ensuring it will never happen again,” a spokeswoman added.

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