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The events at Brook House

  1. Around 20,000 people are held in the UK under immigration powers every year.1) People are detained in detention centres known as immigration removal centres (IRCs), as well as in short-term holding facilities, pre- departure accommodation and prisons. A person is detained in an IRC typically in order to effect their removal from the country, to establish their identity or the basis of their claim to live in the UK, or because there is reason to believe that they will fail to comply with the conditions attached to a grant of immigration bail.2
  2. IRCs in the UK are currently managed on behalf of the Home Office by private firms, as permitted under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. The Home Office retains ultimate responsibility for the welfare of detained people. IRCs must be operated in accordance with a range of legislation, rules and guidance, as well as in compliance with the terms of a contract with the Home Office. These deal with issues such as the safety, care, activities, discipline and control of detained people.3 Further details regarding the legal framework are set out in Part B, and Appendix 2 in Volume III.
  3. One of seven IRCs in the UK, Brook House immigration removal centre (referred to throughout this Report as ‘Brook House’) is located near Gatwick Airport, West Sussex.4 From its opening until May 2020 (including during the relevant period, 1 April 2017 to 31 August 2017), G4S Care and Justice Services (UK) Ltd (G4S) was contracted to operate, manage and maintain Brook House.

Figure 1: Aerial view of Brook House, Gatwick Airport and the surrounding area

Source: Google Earth

  1. Mr Callum Tulley worked as a Detention Custody Officer (DCO) at Brook House from 6 January 2015 to 7 July 2017.5 He became increasingly concerned about the treatment of detained people by staff at Brook House. He also experienced an incident involving what he called a “completely unnecessary” use of force.6 Mr Tulley said that he found the general culture and use of language by staff at Brook House to be “deeply disturbing”.7 After watching a BBC Panorama programme involving secret filming of abuse at Medway Secure Training Centre, Mr Tulley contacted Panorama on 12 January 2016.8 The BBC subsequently employed Mr Tulley as a specialist researcher from 6 March 2017 to 19 September 2017, assisting with a Panorama investigation into Brook House.9 During that period, Mr Tulley was trained in and undertook undercover reporting, including covert filming at Brook House.
  2. Some of the product of this work was included in a BBC Panorama programme, ‘Undercover: Britain’s Immigration Secrets’ (referred to in this Report as ‘the Panorama programme’), which was first broadcast on 4 September 2017.10 It showed a number of people detained at Brook House being subjected to wholly unacceptable physical and verbal abuse by staff members. Staff, including healthcare staff, were involved in misconduct, treating detained people in a dehumanising and depersonalising manner, as well as subjecting them to physical assaults and verbal and racial abuse. The covertly recorded footage was later described by the then Immigration Minister, Caroline Noakes MP, as “appalling”.11
  3. The treatment revealed in the Panorama programme was shocking and has no place in a decent and humane immigration detention system. This has been acknowledged by the Home Office, which apologised for “the failures in the contract, in the level of Home Office supervision”.12 G4S also apologised, commenting:

“Both the mistreatment of the detainees and the failure, by other staff who were present, to intervene to stop it or, to report it was wholly inappropriate, and abhorrent.”13

  1. However, the Inquiry’s work has revealed that abuse within Brook House was even more widespread than was shown in the Panorama programme. There was physical abuse, including through the inappropriate and unjustified use of force, as well as the use of abusive and racist language towards and about detained people. This is most clearly demonstrated by the footage the Inquiry received and reviewed. It is not possible to appreciate the true nature of the incidents without viewing the footage (see the Inquiry’s YouTube  channel, as well as Appendix 6 in Volume III and throughout this Report), which this Report must be read alongside – albeit that it is often very distressing to watch – in order for my findings to be fully understood and to be put into their proper context.


  1. In 2017, covering the key period considered by the Inquiry (1 April 2017 to 31 August 2017), 27,348 people were detained. In 2022, the most recent year for which data are available, 20,446 were detained. (See Home Office Immigration detention statistics, year ending December 2022, Detention – Summary Tables, Det_01, Det 02_a.[]
  2. Enforcement Instructions and Guidance, Home Office, Chapter 55, para 55.1.1[]
  3. Section 149 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 contains a power for the Secretary of State to contract out the management of IRCs. Where that has been done, it specifies that the contracted-out IRC must be operated in accordance with the rules made by the Secretary of State under section 153 of the Act, namely the Detention Centre Rules 2001[]
  4. The seven IRCs are Brook House (Gatwick), Colnbrook (Middlesex), Derwentside (County Durham), Dungavel House (South Lanarkshire), Harmondsworth (Middlesex), Tinsley House (Gatwick) and Yarl’s Wood (Bedfordshire). Colnbrook and Harmondsworth are covered by one contract[]
  5. INQ000052_001 para 2[]
  6. INQ000052_015 para 66[]
  7. INQ000052_016 para 69[]
  8. INQ000052_019 paras 80-81[]
  9. INQ000052_001 para 3[]
  10. INQ000052_001 para 3; ‘Undercover: Britain’s Immigration Secrets’, BBC Panorama, 4 September 2017[]
  11. Inquiry to be held into Brook House detainees ‘abuse’, BBC News, 11 October 2018[]
  12. Philip Riley 4 April 2022 1/17-25; see also HOM0332005_002 para 5; HOM0332165_001-002 paras 3-5[]
  13. CJS0074153_002 paras 3-4[]