Detention centre still in need of improvement says chief prison inspector

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A detention centre near Gatwick has been told by the inspector of prisons that it still needs to make improvements.

The Chief Inspector of Prisons released his report last week of an unannounced inspection made in May of Brook House Immigration Removal Centre, which holds up to 448 adult male detainees who are subject to immigration control.

Improvements have been made since its last inspection in 2011, levels of violence were low and most detainees felt safe.

However, inspectors had concerns about detainees who were not sufficiently informed about their cases because of an ‘overwhelmed on-site Home Office contact management team’.

Chief inspector Nick Hardwick said: “Brook House held too many detainees who were not sufficiently well informed by the Home Office, and who were experiencing considerable frustration and confusion as a result. However, overall this is a reasonable report, and the improvements we observed at our last inspection had been sustained and in some cases built upon.”

The report said some of the detainees’ frustration was evident in the ‘high levels’ of self harm.

Mr Hardwick was positive about how people’s religious needs were met. This was contrary to Brook House’s Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) which has concerns.

He writes: “Provision for faith and religion had improved and was now good. The chaplaincy was diverse and fully staffed. In our survey, 75 per cent of detainees said their religious beliefs were respected against 66 per cent at the previous inspection.”

The IMB report released last month states it was concerned about the provision for Muslims.

The board says: “Steps have been taken to enlarge the area available for Muslim detainees to attend Friday prayers. The corridor outside the mosque and the ablution room are occasionally used and the multi-faith room now has been linked by intercom with the Mosque.

“The Board considers that it is not acceptable for men to have to use the ablution room or corridor to pray. These modifications should only be a temporary solution and it is hoped that alterations can be made which will provide a larger area in which the Muslim population can pray.”