Families held at Cedars face ‘palpable’ distress

Families at the Cedars pre-departure accommodation near Gatwick experience ‘palpable’ distress, a new report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons has revealed.

Cedars provides pre-departure accommodation for families subject to immigration control who are being removed from the UK.

While praising Cedars as a high-quality, well managed institution, Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons said more should be done to reduce the stress of removal.

“The distress experienced by parents and children who are subject to enforced removals is palpable for anyone who spends time in their company in Cedars. More should be done to address the jarring experiences some families have before arrival at Cedars, and to reduce the stress of removal,” Mr Hardwick said.

In his report of an unannounced inspection of the facility, the Chief Inspector of Prisons said the needs of children were not central enough to the arrest process. In one case, extreme force was used for several minutes to batter down a family’s door early in the morning, which would have been terrifying for children had they been in the property.

Force had been used against five of the 42 families held at the Cedars in 2013.

The report also shows that a number of families were still detained on more than one occasion, which was a particularly disruptive upheaval for children, both emotionally and practically.

The report noted that the important role that Barnardo’s staff played in the centre had been maintained and helped to ensure that the needs of children were uppermost in the minds of all staff.

Inspectors were pleased to find that the high-quality residential units and grounds provided a decent environment for families and children of all ages.

They were also pleased to find that the level of individual care and attention for families on their reception into the centre remained exceptional.

Despite undergoing an extremely stressful experience, families spoke highly of the care given to them by all staff.

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