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Executive Summary

  1. Out of sight, out of mind: places of detention are the hidden spaces in our society. Most people will have no experience of being incarcerated and few will have worked in such environments. They are places where communication is restricted, rights and freedoms are curtailed, where isolation from loved ones is a fact of life, and where the toll of detention can have an impact on people’s mental and physical wellbeing. For anyone who has been detained by the State, it is a profoundly life-altering experience.
  2. There is no higher role for the State than as a guardian of all those in its care. This is particularly important for non-citizens, whose rights in the UK are more limited. Their precarious status makes them inherently more vulnerable, particularly when factors such as language barriers, poor health or other characteristics intersect with this fundamental vulnerability. Moreover, the potentially lasting impact of detention on individuals means that the State has a moral duty to ensure that those it detains are treated fairly, humanely, and with dignity and respect.
  3. As this Report will show, the story of Brook House during the relevant period (1 April 2017 to 31 August 2017) has been one of stress and distress. Although this Report is focused on the events that took place at Brook House in the relevant period, the issues raised within it are likely to be of wider application. Immigration detention is a challenging environment to work in, and those challenges should not be underestimated. However, stress and distress should not be accepted as ‘inevitable’ for those who are detained, nor indeed for those who work with detained people. Rather, they are warning signs to which the Home Office, its contractors and monitoring bodies should be continually alert. I have made 33 separate recommendations based on my findings. The vast majority are directed either to the Home Office or to the government more generally. It is clear that more needs to be done at the highest levels of government to ensure that detained people are accorded the dignity and compassion they deserve.