Asylum seekers centre concern

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INSPECTORS say uncertainty over the future of a detention centre for asylum seekers is hampering improvements.

The concerns were raised by Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, after an inspection revealed a string of failings at Lindholme Immigration Removal Centre.

The site, next to Lindholme Prison, is run by the Prison Service for the UK Border Agency. Inspectors raised a number of safety issues and the inability of the centre to break away from the prison and carve a separate and more appropriate identity for itself.

They identified slight progress, but little major change.

Mr Hardwick said: “Managers and staff at Lindholme IRC had made some initial inroads into the areas for improvement identified in our last inspection. However, uncertainty over the IRC’s future appeared not only to have prevented much-needed investment in infrastructure but also hampered the bedding in of some of the changes that had been made.

“The IRC has a number of strengths upon which to build, but progress appears to be contingent upon clarification about its future – and, as we have frequently reported, a clear separation of the IRC from the adjacent prison and the shadow of prison culture.”

Inspectors said detainees felt safe, but many recommendations were not achieved.

The quality of accommodation remained poor, with many improvements on hold pending a decision on future expansion. Night time supervision levels were too low.

Security appeared proportionate, staff-detainee relationships were generally positive and health care services were generally good, but in inadequate facilities.

Home Office director of detention services, Alan Kittle, said it was vital centres were well-run, safe and secure and he was pleased with recognition of a good relationship between detainees and staff and low levels of bullying in the centre.

He said: “We will be considering the contents of this report and HMCIP’s recommendations very carefully. We will draw up a service improvement plan responding to the recommendations.”