Women travelling to and arriving at the centre are treated efficiently and with respect and care. Risks are identified and acted on. Women are supported on their first night. Induction is comprehensive.

1. Women travel in decent conditions, are treated with respect and are fully informed about their transfer.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met. They do not exclude other ways of achieving it.

  • Women are told, in a language they understand, where they are going, how long it will take, why they are being transferred and what to expect when they arrive.
  • Women are given sufficient notice of transfer and can make telephone calls to their families and legal advisers before transfer.
  • Women are not subject to multiple movements around the detention estate and there is due regard to the impact of transfer on local support networks and legal advice.
  • Women are not transferred between centres during the night and all other night-time moves are kept to an absolute minimum.
  • Women are swiftly transferred from police cells and spend no longer than one night in police custody.
  • Women are given adequate comfort breaks and refreshments during transfer.
  • Women are provided with a pack containing sanitary products before transfer.
  • Women are not kept waiting on vehicles after arrival.
  • Women arrive in sufficient time to allow reception and first night procedures to be conducted effectively.
  • Property, medication and paperwork arrive with women transferred to the centre.

2. Women are safe at all times while under escort, and individual needs are recognised and given proper attention.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met. They do not exclude other ways of achieving it.

  • Vehicles are safe, secure, clean and comfortable, and the needs of women with diverse needs, e.g. those with disabilities or those needing to take medication, are met.
  • Escorting staff are aware of women’s individual needs and provide an effective briefing to receiving staff.
  • Male and female detainees are transported separately, unless related.
  • Appropriate vehicles are used to transport women with specific needs, such as pregnant women and women with a disability, in a dignified manner.
  • Women are always accompanied by at least one female officer on escort.
  • Any medical notes should be given to escort staff in a sealed confidential envelope.
  • Arrest teams allow women adequate time to prepare for their journey, to dress appropriately and to collect essential belongings, including medication and paperwork.

3. Women are treated with respect and sensitivity on arrival at the centre.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met. They do not exclude other ways of achieving it.

  • Women are received promptly into a welcoming and supportive reception environment, where they are greeted courteously by staff.
  • Translated information is provided and interpretation, using a female interpreter whenever possible, is used as necessary to ensure good communication with women.
  • All staff, especially those conducting searches, are able to identify signs of abuse and are trained to respond appropriately.
  • Women are searched sensitively by a member of the same sex. Religious/cultural needs are taken into account.
  • If a passport or any other documents are withheld by staff, women are provided with reasons, a receipt and a copy of the documentation.
  • Soon after arrival, women are able to make free telephone calls in private, have a shower and change into clean clothing, and are offered hot drinks and food.
  • The reception process is completed swiftly and women are offered something to occupy them while they are waiting.
  • Women’s first night accommodation has been prepared, is clean and provides a comfortable environment.
  • Women are able to obtain basic toiletries on arrival.

4. Children and other dependants are not put at risk as a result of a woman’s detention.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met. They do not exclude other ways of achieving it.

  • Home Office staff know whether women have children and are assured that care arrangements for them are appropriate before their carer is detained.
  • Home Office staff have due regard to their duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in any decision regarding detention.
  • Appropriate action is taken to identify and promote the safety of children or other dependants who may be at risk as a result of their carer’s detention.
  • Women are allowed the time and facilities necessary to make arrangements for children and other dependants, including free phone calls.
  • The names, ages and current care arrangements for children or other dependants are recorded on reception, and subsequently used to generate a support plan.
  • Reception staff have ready access to social services contacts in the event that they cannot resolve concerns about the welfare of a detained woman’s children. Any potential child safeguarding concerns are relayed to the centre’s safeguarding lead.

5. Women feel and are safe on their reception into the centre and for the first few days in detention. Vulnerability10 and risk are identified and women are given necessary support.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met. They do not exclude other ways of achieving it.

  • All women arrive with correct documentation, including any assessment of their vulnerability, evidence of authority to detain (IS91) and the reasons for detention (IS91R).
  • Vulnerable women receive appropriate priority.
  • Women receive a private interview, including an assessment of vulnerabilities, the risk of self-harm or suicide and a room sharing risk assessment, before location in residential units. Risk of harm information is shared with appropriate staff and, where relevant, the Home Office (see ‘Safeguarding of vulnerable adults’).
  • All sensitive one-to-one interviews are conducted by a female member of staff, using professional interpretation when required. The interpreter is a woman whenever possible.
  • Staff working in reception, first night and induction alert first responders to potential victims of trafficking. Potential victims of trafficking are referred to the National Referral Mechanism. Referrals are made with informed consent whenever possible.
  • Women are promptly screened by female health services staff in private. Screening includes an assessment of vulnerabilities, including their mental capacity (see ‘Safeguarding of vulnerable adults’).
  • Women are given immediate assistance with pressing support needs.
  • Women spending their first night in the centre are identified to night staff, who offer appropriate support and regularly check on their well-being throughout the night.
  • Staff introduce themselves to new women in the residential units and wear identification that clearly displays their name and status.
  • Information about women’s needs is communicated between staff sensitively, especially if it is related to medical issues.

10There is no universally agreed definition of vulnerability in detention. As Stephen Shaw’s 2016 report, Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons: A Report to the Home Office (CM9186), points out, some commentators consider all of those in detention to be vulnerable because they are detained. Others prefer to describe groups that are in ‘situations of vulnerability’, as opposed to intrinsically vulnerable groups, thereby stressing the largely contextual nature of vulnerability. It is common for groups such as those with serious mental or physical health problems, children, elderly people, pregnant women, LGBTI people, people with disabilities, asylum-seekers, and those who have experienced torture, trafficking or gender-based violence, including female genital mutilation, to be considered especially at risk of harm or neglect in detention. In these Expectations, we use the terms ‘vulnerable’ and ‘vulnerability’ to refer to these groups, but also to any other individuals or groups who may be at risk of harm or neglect as a result of other personal, social and environmental factors; these factors may be fixed or change over time and the degree of vulnerability may change as a result.

6. Women understand the centre’s routines and how to access available services that will help them cope with detention.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met. They do not exclude other ways of achieving it.

  • Women receive a comprehensive and multidisciplinary induction, which starts no later than the day after their arrival.
  • Information is reinforced as needed over the course of the detention.
  • Induction includes a private conversation with a member of staff to help alleviate any immediate concerns.
  • Women are meaningfully occupied throughout the induction period and able to participate in activities swiftly.
  • Induction provides women with key information, such as how to access visits, immigration staff, legal advice, health care, activities and the Independent Monitoring Board.
  • Induction informs women of sources of internal and external support such as the multi-faith team, peer support workers, welfare staff, visitors and community support groups, and enables them to meet them. This includes providing information for women who are pregnant, or who have been trafficked and/or have experienced sexual or gender-based violence.
  • Induction is provided in a range of accessible formats with interpretation and translation where necessary.

Human rights standards

Arrival and early days in detention
In relation to expectations 1–6 above: Human rights standards set out a number of requirements applicable to arrival and early days in detention. These include in relation to conditions of transport, requiring the provision of information in a language and way detainees understand, identifying the health care and other needs of detainees and allowing detainees to contact family and legal counsel. See SMR 1, 7, 50, 54, 55, 58, 62, 67, 68, 73; EPR 15.1, 15.2, 16; 24.8, 30, 31, 32, 37; BOP 1, 16, 24, 31; UNHCR–DG 7, 8; TGFR 10; CPT 2, 4, 9, 10. See additionally in relation to women, BR 2, 3, 5–8, 19; EPR 19.7.