Immigration detention Expectations

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This is the fourth edition of our Expectations for immigration detention – the criteria we use during our inspections to assess the treatment and conditions of those held in immigration removal centres, short-term holding facilities, family detention and under escort, both within the UK and overseas. Expectations help us to deliver independent and objective assessments of outcomes for detainees, thereby helping the UK to meet its responsibilities as a signatory to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).

These Expectations were drawn up after extensive consultation and are based on and referenced against international human rights standards. They reflect the fact that immigration detainees should be held in non-punitive and non-carceral environments. The expectations often go beyond the associated human rights standards, many of which focus on the minimum standards expected in a criminal justice context. (There are currently no comprehensive human rights standards relating to administrative or immigration detention. Where relevant, we have used specific standards relating to persons seeking asylum, migrants, and to places of detention generally, as well as standards that relate specifically to women, children and other groups. Where we have drawn on standards derived from the criminal justice context, we have read them in light of the fact that immigration detainees have distinct needs and should not be held in prison-like environments.)

This version of Expectations for immigration detention takes account of the findings of the important reviews, research and policy changes over the last five years. For the first time, we are publishing specific expectations for centres holding women detainees. This is in line with our approach to women’s prisons, where the Bangkok Rules and other authoritative sources reflect the desirability of non-custodial measures, given the particular vulnerability of women in custody.

We have also included criteria for judging the effectiveness of leadership in achieving the standards that we expect. These will apply to local and national managers, and to all agencies involved in holding detainees. We will make judgements when leadership has an observable impact on outcomes for detainees; any judgements we make will relate to how leadership supports or obstructs the achievement of other expectations within the establishment on which we are reporting.

Expectations are organised under three or four healthy establishment tests – safety, respect, activities and preparation for release or removal. Each expectation is underpinned by a series of ‘indicators’, which describe the evidence that will normally indicate to inspectors whether the outcome is likely to have been achieved or not.

Expectations describe the standards of treatment and conditions we expect an establishment to achieve.

Indicators suggest evidence that may indicate whether the expectations have been achieved. The list of indicators is not exhaustive and these do not exclude an establishment demonstrating the expectation has been met in other ways.

Expectations continue to provide the foundation for robust independent inspection of immigration detention that seeks to ensure all immigration detainees are held safely for the shortest time possible, treated respectfully and given the help they need to prepare for release or return.

Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

January 2018