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The re-purposing of Yarl’s Wood IRC leads to a challenging year

During 2022 Yarl’s Wood was repurposed as an Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) and Residential Short-Term Holding Facility (RSTHF) for men only. This change in population resulted in an increase in violent incidents, both between residents and against staff, as well as damage to the fabric of the building.

The Independent Monitoring Board for Yarl’s Wood IRC noted the following in their 2022 annual report:

  • Frustration over the lack of progress with cases and length of detention is causing unrest. This is particularly true for men who have already served a prison sentence, only to be further detained in an IRC.
  • The inexperience of some staff has led to a number of complaints of a minor nature about officers’ conduct from detained men, some of which were upheld.
  • Vulnerable people are still being detained, despite the Board’s previous recommendations.

However, the Board notes the following positives:

  • The centre has generally managed challenging situations well and provides a fair and humane environment.
  • There is good identification, support and supervision of those identified with mental health and other vulnerabilities.
  • The continued high quality of healthcare provision.

IMB Yarl’s Wood Chair, Paul Harris, said:

“This has been a very challenging year for the centre with its re-purposing as an IRC for men. There has been an increase in violence between residents and assaults on staff, often caused by the men’s frustration at how long they have been detained. For the most part these incidents have been dealt with fairly and humanely.

The IMB cannot stress enough how important it is that for the wellbeing of the men and the safety of all concerned, the length of stay is reduced by improving processes related to asylum status and/or removal.

The IMB is concerned that it continues to see the detention of vulnerable persons, with poor information coming from prisons about the mental health and vulnerability of men being transferred to Yarl’s Wood.”