National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC)
110 Hamstead Road
Birmingham B20 2QS
The trial of 11 detainees accused of various offences including arson and violent behaviour arising from the disturbance at Yarl's Wood Removal Centre last year ended today Friday 15th August 2003.
13 persons were originally charged but two absconded before the trial began. Of the 11 who went to trial 7 were acquitted of all charges, 3 were found guilty of violent disorder and 1 person of affray.
There will be a full press release on Monday next.
Anne Owers report on Dungavel Removal Centre
An Immigration Detention or Removal Centre is not a prison. Detainees have not been charged with a criminal offence, nor are they detained through normal judicial processes.
Below are some extracts from the introduction to the report, the full report can be downloaded @
plus the HM Inspectorate of Education report which was made in conjunction with Ms Owers report.
page 5 para 3: There were three main sources of detainees' distress at Dungavel. The first was the fact of detention itself, in a prison-like environment, and for an indefinite period with an uncertain future. Detainees' comments in our questionnaire were poignant (see para 9.13) and revealed the high levels of insecurity and fear that detention produced. This underlines the need for counselling and psychological support within removal centres. The complex mix of nationalities, and low staffing levels on the units for single people, also meant that some detainees reported being intimidated by others. Anti-bullying strategies specific to detainees should be developed at Dungavel, as at other removal centres, to ensure that this is monitored and prevented.
As in our reports on other centres, these anxieties also point to the need for effective welfare provision - to deal with the lives that detainees have left, or those they will return to. In Dungavel, as elsewhere, we found that the preparation for what happened next - whether removal, transfer to another centre, or release - was an area that was poorly managed and needed much greater attention: both in relation to immigration staff informing detainees in time about removal, and in relation to the practical winding up of their affairs in the UK.
page 5 para 6: The second underlying factor was the length and the stress of the journeys many had experienced to get to Dungavel, sometimes from other centres or airports in southern England. Particularly for families, a 400-mile trip in an escort van, with escort staff reluctant to stop for comfort breaks, meant that they arrived at the centre distressed and disoriented.
. . . . . . Dungavel was quite remote, and difficult for families and visitors to get to: only a quarter of detainees had received visits from family or friends.
Page 6 para 1:Thirdly, and importantly, as we have found at other removal centres, detainees' sense of insecurity was greatly increased by weaknesses in communication and case management by the Immigration Service,
. . . . . . difficulty of accessing competent legal representation for their cases.
. . . . . . Fewer than half of the detainees whose detention should have been reviewed said that they were aware that it had been.
Page 6 para 2: Similarly, only a minority of detainees knew how to access legal advice from the centre. Many were anxious about being poorly represented, and some were paying for representation that should have been available free. We also express concerns about representatives who did not contact their clients, or who appeared to be seeing large numbers of detainees in one visit, but for very short periods. The role of immigration officers, and the monitoring of legal advice, are matters that need addressing across the detention estate if detainees' cases are to be properly and effectively handled and their understandable anxieties about their future addressed.
Page 6 para 3: Seventeen per cent of detainees at the time of the inspection were children, and we came across families who had spent months in the centre.
. . . . . . there were serious shortfalls in the educational provision.
In addition, because families and children were locked into the family unit, they needed to ask staff if they wished to go out; at the time of the inspection, children had insufficient play areas and access to the outside.
Page 6 para 5: Nevertheless, in spite of these admirable efforts, the Scottish education inspectorate (HMIE) considered that even the improved educational facilities they found in July 2003 were acceptable only for a short period - no more than two weeks - and could not meet the educational needs of children detained for lengthier periods, certainly not more than six weeks.
. . . . . . there is also the wider question, which we also address in this report, of the development and welfare of children held for an indefinite period in a secure facility, without the possibility of normal social life, and exposed to the general feelings of insecurity evident in the centre. We note HMIE's view that in general terms 'the positive development of children was compromised by the secure nature of the facility and the uncertainty surrounding the length of stay.'
Page 7 para 1: This confirms our view, expressed in other reports, that the detention of children should be an exceptional measure, and should not in any event exceed a very short period - no more than a matter of days. The key principle here is not the precise number of days - whether it is the seven days we proposed for short-term removal centres in England, or the two weeks beyond which even their educational needs cannot be guaranteed,
. . . . . . It is that the welfare and development of children is likely to be compromised by detention, however humane the provisions, and that this will increase the longer detention is maintained. We therefore believe that there should be an independent assessment of the welfare, developmental and educational needs of each detained child, guided by the principles set out in international and UK domestic law in relation to children. (International Convention on the Rights of the Child, Children Act 1989, Children Scotland Act 1995).