The centre promotes the welfare of families and protects them from all kinds of harm and neglect and reduces the risk of self-harm and suicide. Families are protected from bullying and victimisation and the use of force is proportionate to the need to keep detainees safe. Force is never used against children unless it is to protect them or others from immediate harm.

7. Families feel and are safe around other detainees and staff.

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

  • There are systems in place to ensure that staff identify, fully assess and properly manage the risk that detainees may present to children.
  • Staff are alert to potential bullying and all forms of victimisation.
  • Staff confront and challenge unacceptable behaviour.
  • Staff supervision provides protection for detainees in all areas of the centre.
  • Detainees are protected from unwanted sexual attention.

8. Adults who are vulnerable to harm or neglect are held in a safe environment and given appropriate care and support.

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

  • Safeguarding procedures and guidance are known and used by all staff, including on how to make the necessary referrals.
  • All staff in contact with detainees are trained in the identification and care of vulnerable detainees.28
  • The centre promptly informs the Home Office of all detainees who may be vulnerable to harm in detention. The Home Office keeps centre staff informed about its assessment of risk to individual detainees.
  • An individual care plan is in place to address a detainee’s assessed needs.
  • When abuse of a detainee is alleged or suspected to have occurred, prompt and appropriate action is taken to protect the detainee and this is swiftly communicated to the Home Office.
  • Staff are aware of their personal and professional responsibility to protect adults at risk and undergo appropriate training.
  • Staff are subject to recruitment and vetting procedures which comply with necessary legislation.

28There 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.

9. The centre provides a safe environment which actively reduces the risk of self-harm and suicide.

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

  • There is a clear strategy for preventing self-harm and suicide, which includes effective multidisciplinary procedures and care planning to help reduce risks.
  • All staff are fully trained in suicide prevention.
  • Rooms and toilets are free of ligature points as far as is practicable and suitable levels of supervision are in place.
  • Staff manage the risk to children when members of their family are at risk of self-harm.
  • Detainees are monitored at high-risk times, such as when removal is imminent.
  • Staff are alert to and take seriously the vulnerability of detainees who are not eating. Missed meals are monitored and detainees are given encouragement, care and support to resume eating.
  • Staff routinely carry anti-ligature knives.
  • Incidents of self-harm are closely monitored and analysed at regular intervals to establish any trends and to implement preventive measures. Serious incidents are properly investigated to establish what lessons can be learned and to promote good practice.

10. Detainees are only subject to force as a last resort when other methods have failed. When used, force is legitimate, necessary and proportionate, and subject to rigorous governance. Force is never used against children unless it is to protect them or others from immediate harm.

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

  • Staff are trained in and routinely use de-escalation techniques.
  • There is an up-to-date and published policy on how children who are resisting removal are to be managed.
  • Restraints are only used as a last resort and for the shortest possible period.
  • Force is only used in exceptional circumstances with due regard to the effect on children witnessing it. If used in front of children, the impact on the child is promptly and appropriately assessed and recorded.
  • Force is never used on children or on pregnant women unless it is to protect them or others from immediate harm. Only approved techniques are used in such circumstances.
  • Planned use of force is properly authorised and video recorded. All staff involved in the use of force complete appropriate reports promptly and in detail.
  • Detainees subject to control and restraint procedures are seen by a health care practitioner as soon as possible after restraint is removed.
  • Use of force documentation and associated CCTV or video footage is scrutinised by senior managers to identify opportunities for improvement and possible ill-treatment. Any concerns are investigated, lessons are learned and appropriate action taken.
  • Detainees and their legal representatives are able to promptly access records that staff hold of incidents where force has been used on them.
  • There is effective oversight by the Home Office and Independent Monitoring Board.
  • Detainees kept separate are in appropriate accommodation, and are monitored closely for their physical, emotional and mental well-being. Staff keep accurate records.
  • Detainees are separated for the shortest possible period. They have access to phones and social and legal visitors, and are visited by religious ministers, welfare staff and centre managers.

Human rights standards

Safeguarding adults and personal safety
In relation to expectations 7–10 above: Persons held in immigration detention may be or become vulnerable to harm during their detention, including harm that arises or is exacerbated because they are detained. Human rights standards require the individual needs and circumstances of detainees to be assessed and regularly reviewed in order to identify their vulnerabilities, monitor the impact of detention on them and safeguard them from harm. Human rights standards also recognise that some individuals should not be held in immigration detention due to their vulnerability. See UNHCR–DG 8 [48(vi)], 9.1, 9.4–9.7; SMR 2, 33, 34, 109; BOP 5; EPR 12.1, 12.2, 16, 25.4, 42.3, 43.1, 52.1; CPRD 5, 12, 14–17, 25; CPT 9, 10. See additionally in relation to women, UNHCR–DG 9.3; CEDAW 6; BR 25, 31, 33, 42.4, 66; EPR 34.1, 34.2.

Human rights standards require prompt and impartial investigation where there are reasonable grounds to believe an act of torture or ill-treatment has occurred in detention, or when an allegation of torture or ill-treatment is made by a detained individual. See SMR 1, 30, 34, 54–57, 71, 72, 76; EPR 1, 42, 81; BOP 33; CAT 2, 12, 13, 16; ECHR 3; ICCPR 7, 10.1; CPT 8.

For standards in relation to safety and reporting abuse, see EPR 52.2, 55; BR 25.1, 31; UNHCR–DG 8[48(xv), (xvi)].

In addition to human rights standards that require vulnerable adults to be safeguarded, human rights standards require the right to life of detainees to be protected and promoted, and detainees to be treated with respect for their dignity and human rights. Specific standards require detainees to be provided with sufficient mental health care. See SMR 1, 2, 30, 31, 33; EPR 1, 25.4, 42.3, 43.1, 47.2, 52.2, 52.4; CCLEO 6; UNHCR–DG 8[48(vi)]; ECHR 2; ICCPR 6, 10; CPT 2, 9. See additionally in relation to women, BR 12, 13, 16, 35.

Human rights standards only allow for the use of force and restraints when absolutely necessary and as a measure of last resort. If it is absolutely necessary to use force or restraint, this must be the minimum necessary and only imposed for the time period required. There must be clear procedures governing the use of force and restraint. In relation to restraint, see SMR 47–49; EPR 68, CPT 6, 7. In relation to the use of force, see SMR 82; EPR 64–66; BPUFF 15. See additionally in relation to women, BR 24, and children, HR 63–65.