INSPECTORS have said the Haslar Immigration Removal Centre is failing some of its most vulnerable inmates.
Despite praising it for improvements in accommodation, a report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons raised concerns over the treatment of detainees believed to be children or victims of torture.
It said recommendations made following an inspection in 2009 about how to deal with cases where a prisoner’s age is unknown or torture is suspected had not been put into practice.
In one case an Iranian youngster spent more than a month in detention because his age was disputed and was only released after his solicitor threatened legal action.
Fears were also raised that case workers had a ‘dismissive’ attitude towards inmates who claimed to have been tortured.
The report claims one man who told staff he had been burned with cigarettes did not have his injuries investigated and so continued to be detained.
Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick said: ‘This report describes some significant progress since the last inspection.
‘However, we were concerned that there had been minimal progress on our recommendations regarding immigration casework and we expect the UKBA to address these continued failings, which impact significantly on what was otherwise an impressive centre.’
In his report he added: ‘It was of particular concern that procedures to safeguard the most vulnerable detainees, those who might be children and those who might not be fit to be detained, potentially as a result of torture, were not robust.’
Haslar is the UK’s oldest operating immigration detention centre.
The centre has a total of 160 beds housing a total of 135 inmates.
Following its last inspection in 2009, inspectors said it had some of the least suitable accommodation in the immigration detention estate and provided an environment that was potentially unsafe.
Addressing this issue in the latest report, Mr Hardwick wrote: ‘A refurbishment programme had greatly improved the quality of the accommodation.
‘Noise levels were considerably reduced and the atmosphere was calmer.’