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Government responds to Brook House Inquiry report

Six months after the Brook House Inquiry published its report, the Home Secretary has responded. The response seeks to create distance from the events in 2017 that prompted the inquiry, as though it was an isolated incident, stating: “Further improvements have been made since the events of 2017 to uphold the welfare and dignity of those detained across the estate including strengthening safeguards, promoting a culture of transparency and improving the oversight of contractors’ performance.” This is simply not borne out by events since then and as evidenced by Medical Justice.

On safeguards, the response again sought to distance itself from the inquiry’s report through the passage of time:

In September 2016, the adults at risk in immigration detention (AaR) policy was implemented, setting out that vulnerable people should be detained only when the immigration factors outweigh the risk of harm to the individual in any given case. These measures were still bedding in during the relevant period and are now considered business as usual and fully integrated into detention decision making processes. 

Again, there is an abundance of evidence to show that safeguarding issues are not historical and it is not good enough to refer to a policy introduced in 2016, particularly when it has been changed considerably since then, not least to permit the detention of victims of trafficking. The Home Office is apparently carrying out “reviews” in several areas, although without a clear acknowledgement that these problems are not historical then it is difficult to see where the motivation for any positive changes will come from. The Home Secretary also declined to accept the recommendation of a time limit on detention.

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Sonia Lenegan

Sonia Lenegan

Sonia Lenegan is an experienced immigration, asylum and public law solicitor. She has been practising for over ten years and was previously legal director at the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association and legal and policy director at Rainbow Migration. Sonia is the Editor of Free Movement.

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