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The legal framework

  1. Immigration removal centres (IRCs), such as Brook House, are required to operate in accordance with a range of legislation, rules and guidance.

3.1 Section 153 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (the 1999 Act) provides that the Secretary of State must make rules for the regulation and management of removal centres and that these rules may, among other things, make provision with respect to the safety, care, activities, discipline and control of detained people.1 In addition, section 149 of the 1999 Act contains a power for the Secretary of State to contract out the management of removal centres. Where that has been done, it specifies that the contracted-out removal centre must be operated in accordance with the rules made by the Secretary of State under section 153.2

3.2 The Detention Centre Rules 2001 (the Rules) are secondary (ie delegated) legislation made under the 1999 Act. They govern the operation and management of IRCs.3 The Rules cover a range of issues, including the purpose of detention centres, the welfare, privileges and religious needs of detained people, as well as restrictions that can be imposed on them, such as removal from association and temporary confinement, and the use of force.

3.3 Detention service orders are instructions outlining procedures to be followed by the Home Office and its contractors’ staff in the management of detention centres.4 They cover a range of issues, including accommodation standards, internet access, management of adults at risk, mental vulnerability, paid activities, induction and welfare services.

3.4 The Detention Services Operating Standards Manual provides the standards set by the Home Office for contractors that manage IRCs.5 It sets out standards in relation to matters such as accommodation, education, use of force, access to activities and the library, catering, clothing, communications, complaints, healthcare, hygiene, incentives schemes, interpreters/translators, race relations and religion. The standards are said by the Home Office to be “designed to build on the Detention Centre Rules and to underpin the arrangements we have for the management of removal centres”, and are “a means of achieving a level of consistency across the removal estate”.6

Further details regarding the legal framework are set out in Appendix 2 in Volume III of this Report.


  1. Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, section 153[]
  2. Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, section 149[]
  3. Detention Centre Rules 2001[]
  4. Detention services orders,[]
  5. Detention Services Operating Standards Manual for Immigration Service Removal Centres, January 2005[]
  6. Detention Services Operating Standards Manual for Immigration Service Removal Centres, January 2005, p1[]