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Unsuitable holding facilities across immigration detention in Scotland and Northern Ireland

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) for Scotland and Northern Ireland short-term holding facilities (STHF) has significant concerns about the practice of removing prescribed medication from those entering detention. The Board has also highlighted several areas in which the conditions of detention are not up to the required standard, including unsuitable holding rooms, and limited accessibility for those with disabilities.

In its 2022-23 annual report, the IMB made the following observations:

  • The removal of prescribed medication poses unacceptable risks to detained people.
  • There is a lack of suitable facilities for those with disabilities across the estate, for example some areas do not have accessible toilets or showers for wheelchair users.
  • The time detained people are held before transfer or release is steadily increasing and some face long journeys late at night when being moved to other locations within the detention estate.
  • The holding facilities in some establishments are not fit for purpose. For example, at Larne House there is currently no separation between male and female residents and certain locations lack showers.

However, the Board also reported that:

  • Individuals being detained are generally treated courteously and with respect by Care and Custody and Border Force staff.
  • There has been a noticeable improvement to the way in which risks are recorded during the induction process. This is important in maintaining the safety of detained people and those responsible for them.

IMB Scotland and Northern Ireland Chair, Dominic Notarangelo said:

“A balance requires to be struck between how long individuals are kept in the holding rooms and the suitability of the facilities. We have highlighted structural matters such as the lack of showering facilities at certain locations and the lack of separation between male and female residents at Larne House. The Board wishes to see continuous improvements in these areas. The Board also considers the removal of personal medication from those being detained an issue that urgently needs addressing.”