The remote location of Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre is unsuitable, and leads to unfair and, in some respects, inhumane treatment of the women held there, many of whom are vulnerable and may have experience of trafficking. The Independent Monitoring Board at Derwentside, which visits the facility every week, noted in their first annual report that:
- Unlike the male immigration centres in England, Derwentside is located hundreds of miles from the UK’s principal airports and other detention centres, meaning women are subject to lengthy transfers, often at night and often with a disruptive overnight stay at another secure facility.
- Family visits are a rarity, and the inadequate communications infrastructure makes it difficult for women to maintain contact with their support networks.
- Some vulnerable women were detained for months after their release had been approved, because of delays in finding appropriate accommodation.
However the Board also noted the following positives:
- Once at Derwentside, women are treated with high levels of respect and kindness from staff.
- The accommodation is of a good standard and there is plenty of access to outside space.
- Healthcare and mental health services are of a high standard and there are good engagement activities.
Chair of the IMB at Derwentside, Jane Leech MBE said:
“Given the concerns we have highlighted about Derwentside’s location throughout our first year of monitoring, we are asking the Immigration Minister to reconsider its suitability as an immigration removal centre. We feel that these long and frequent journeys, combined with difficulties in maintaining family contact, are damaging to the women concerned – bearing in mind that many are extremely vulnerable, and may well have been trafficked.”