Second suspension at Yarl’s Wood

Published: Tuesday 3rd March 2015 by The News Editor

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A second Serco staff member has been suspended from the Yarl’s Wood detention centre after “serious and deeply concerning” allegations were made in a Channel 4 documentary, Home Office Minister Karen Bradley has told MPs.

Answering a Commons urgent question, Ms Bradley said the second staff member had been suspended following last night’s broadcast, which revealed questions over the stands of care at the centre.

Staff were filmed referring to the detention centre’s inmates as “animals”, “beasties” and “bitches”.

Ms Bradley said: “Serco immediately suspended one member of staff who could be identified from information available before broadcast and have suspended another having seen the footage.

“The company has also commissioned an independent review of its culture and staffing at Yarl’s Wood.”

The minister said Home Office officials had already visited the detention centre and highlighted the high standards expected of staff.

She said: “Detention is an important part of a firm but fair immigration system. It is right those with no right to remain in the UK are returned to their home country if they will not leave voluntarily.

“But a sense of fairness must always be at the heart of our immigration system, including for those we are removing from the UK. That is why the allegations made by Channel 4 about Serco staff at Yarl’s Wood are serious and deeply concerning.

“It is why they required an immediate response to address them and it is why the Government has ensured this is being done.”

Ms Bradley outlined how all centres are subject to the detention centre rules approved by MPs in 2001. Together with operational guidance, they set out the standards of care expected, she said.

The Minister told MPs: “No form of discrimination is tolerated.”

Regular independent inspections are carried out by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons and independent monitoring boards, chaired in Yarl’s Wood’s case by Mary Coussey.

Ms Bradley said the most recent inspection by the Prison’s inspectorate found Yarl’s Wood to be a “safe and respectful centre which is continuing to improve”, while the independent panel also raised no concerns.

She added: “Nonetheless, the Home Office expects the highest levels of integrity and professionalism from all of its contractors and takes any allegations of misconduct extremely seriously.

“As soon as we were made aware of recent allegations, Home Office officials visited Yarl’s Wood to provide assurances all detainees were being treated in a safe and dignified manner.”

The Home Office has instructed Serco to act “quickly and decisively” to resolve problems highlighted by the allegations.

The firm’s independent review of culture and staffing at Yarl’s Wood will be carried out by Kate Lampard, who produced the Lessons Learned review following the Jimmy Savile inquiries.

Ms Bradley added: “More needs to be done. The Home Office has made clear we expect to see swift and comprehensive introduction of body worn cameras for staff at Yarl’s Wood.

“In addition, we have discussed with Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons how he might provide further independent assurance.”

Published: Tuesday 3rd March 2015 by The News Editor

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