In their annual report for 2022-23, the independent monitoring board (IMB) for the South and East short term holding facilities (STHFs), report that detained people are increasingly being held for prolonged periods of time in facilities designed only for short term use with no access to fresh air, exercise, and showering facilities.
The Board notes that:
- There is no privacy for those who are detained, and on occasion men, women, children and vulnerable people have been required to share one room.
- In September 2022, all sleeping mats were removed and have not yet been replaced, meaning detained individuals have had to sleep on the floor or across hard seating, a state of affairs the Board describes as ‘inhumane’.
- The needs of those with mobility, hearing or sight impairments are not adequately met.
However, the Board noted the following positives:
- The Board have been impressed by the sensitivity and care shown to detained people by staff.
- 24/7 access to healthcare is now available at Gatwick, Luton and Stansted Airports.
IMB Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and Lunar House (GSL) Co-Vice Chair, Chris Duke, said:
“The Board believe that the lack of privacy, the failure to provide adequate facilities for sleeping and showering and the failure to cater for the needs of those who are less able physically, mean that these facilities are not fit for purpose. We are further concerned that we have not yet seen an outcome from the review indicated in the ministerial response to our previous annual report concerning disability access and support.”