A new report of an announced inspection of the Cedars pre-departure accommodation near Gatwick shows that force was used against six of the 39 families going through the facility.
This is the first inspection of the Cedars where families are detained for up to a week immediately before removal. It has largely replaced the detention of children in Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre.
The report by Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons shows that force had been used to effect the removal of a pregnant woman using non-approved techniques.
Most work from family escort staff was commendable, but inspectors observed unprofessional behaviour by an officer on a different escort in the hearing of children.
Inspectors were pleased to find that most of the work from Reliance escort staff was commendable and families were, in general, complimentary about their treatment during escort, even during the stressful removal stage.
Inspectors said that most of what they saw from the point of arrival at the centre was good and it was clear that it had been designed around the needs of children and families.
The report shows that children were well occupied and said they enjoyed the care and stimulation they received at the centre.
The level of care provided by the enthusiastic staff group was exceptional, the physical environment was clean, well maintained and attractive, the report says.
Parents told inspectors that if they were to be removed forcibly, they would rather be held in Cedars for a short time, both to provide time for applications for judicial review, and to help them settle and prepare their children.
“Cedars is an exceptional facility and has many practices that should be replicated in other places of detention,” Mr. Hardwick said. “However, it is also a place that precedes a traumatic dislocation for children who have, in many cases, been born in this country or been here for much of their lives. It is to the considerable credit of staff at Cedars that children held were, in general, happily occupied and that parents were able to concentrate on communication with solicitors, family and friends. This inspection found conditions and treatment exceed by some distance what families have previously experienced before removal. For that reason, staff at Cedars deserve great credit for what has been achieved in circumstances that are never less than sad.”