Staff had sex with detainee at Yarl’s Wood immigration centre

Two staff who had sex with a female detainee at the Yarl's Wood immigration centre in Bedfordshire have been sacked, a new report by Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons shows.

Yarl’s Wood, operated by the Serco, holds almost 300 detainees, many of whom are single adult women. It also holds a number of adult families and there is a short-term holding facility for adult men on the site.

The report shows that progress had been made at the facility, but inspectors were concerned about allegations of abuse.

Most women again told inspectors that Yarl’s Wood was a largely respectful and safe place. They did not give any account of abuse, but were vulnerable, and said that male staff entering their rooms without knocking made them uncomfortable.

The detainees told inspectors that lack of progress of their immigration cases caused them most distress.

A number of women had been detained for very long periods – one for almost four years.

Inspectors found that several obviously mentally ill women had been detained before being sectioned and released to a medical facility.

Pregnant women had been detained without evidence of the exceptional circumstances required to justify this.

The report revealed that detainees who had clear trafficking indicators had not been referred to the national trafficking referral mechanism as required.

On the positive side, most detainees told the inspectors that there were very few violent incidents and little victimization.

The use of force and segregation had decreased since the last inspection, and the high number of women subject to suicide and self-harm prevention procedures were generally well cared for.

Mr. Hardwick said: “Yarl’s Wood has had a troubled past, punctuated by serious disturbances and controversy surrounding the detention of children. This inspection found that the improvements we have noted since the detention of children ended have continued. Nevertheless, despite the good progress made, improvement continues to be necessary. Yarl’s Wood still holds detainees in the middle of a distressing and difficult experience and more thought needs to be given to meeting their emotional and practical needs. For the most vulnerable of the women held, the decision to detain itself appears much too casual.”

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