CONCERNS have been raised over how long people are held at an immigration removal centre – after two people were detained for more than two years.
The Independent Monitoring Board raised fears over several long-stay detainees at Haslar Immigration Removal Centre in its annual report.
One person had been in UK Border Agency custody for more than three years – although had not spent the whole time at Haslar.
The release of several people into the community after lengthy stays at the Gosport site was welcomed.
But the report said they had become institutionalised, with the longest stay detainee resisting release amid concerns over how he would cope with life on the outside.
The report states: ‘The board continues to be concerned about the effect of long-term detention – over a year on a small minority of detainees – and regrets that in 2011 two Haslar detainees had been in the establishment for over two years.’
The board also reported a ‘serious breach’ in food hygiene to the Food Standards Agency after halal lamb was contaminated with wool or hair.
Overall the board said it was ‘generally pleased’ with how the centre was managed in the last year.
But it says there is still room for improvement in the quality of care offered by some dormitory officers.
Concerns were raised over complaints from many detainees about lack of feedback on their cases and complaints from the UK Border Agency.
And fears were raised about the capacity of existing staff to cope with major incidents such as a fire or large-scale disturbance.
The report calls for all complaints relating to people’s property to be resolved before they leave the UK.
However it commends efforts made to ensure people only smoke in designated areas – as smoking in other areas increases the fire risk and can cause problems between people detained at the centre.
It also emphasises the importance of forewarning detainees going to medical appointments that they would be handcuffed – despite not being prisoners – as some detainees may refuse to co-operate if they are not aware of the requirement.