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Poor translation services and long delays impacting detained people at London immigration facilities

People are on occasion being detained for too long, overnight, in holding rooms with nowhere to sleep and no privacy. Delays in transfers and poor access to translation services also cause frustration, says the London STHF IMB in their 2022-23 annual report:

  • Delays in processing cases due to insufficient numbers of Border Force staff result in long waits in areas with inadequate facilities, especially for children. This is particularly the case at Terminal 5, which also has no showers.
  • Translation services are affected by the lack of internet access which prevents detained people from being able to communicate effectively about their situation and needs.
  • Some wheelchair users have been denied entry to the holding rooms as staff are not trained to assist these individuals in and out of their wheelchairs.

However, the Board are pleased to report that:

  • They have observed children being inducted by staff in a friendly and sensitive manner.
  • Guiding holds are no longer standard protocol for those being removed in insecure areas, unless supported by a risk assessment.

London STHF IMB Chair, Jo Dibb, said: “Overall, we have found many detention and escort staff to be caring and sympathetic to detained people, including vulnerable individuals and families. However, detention is often an isolating and uncomfortable experience, especially for those individuals who are waiting for long periods, are tired and anxious after their flights and, in the most worrying cases, are fearful of what will happen to them if they are sent back to their own country.”