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Over-reliance on external organisations

  1. The Brook House IMB did not identify the ill treatment of detained people during the relevant period, and it told the Inquiry that it had seen no “indications that it might be happening”.1 Detention Custody Officer (DCO) Callum Tulley said he was “never aware of any abusive language or treatment being demonstrated in front of the IMB”.2 The Brook House IMB, however, fell short during the relevant period. It did not take sufficient proactive steps to monitor the treatment of detained people and it had developed too close a relationship with the Home Office and G4S.
  2. HMIP did not carry out an inspection during the relevant period. However, as discussed below, the 2016 HMIP inspection report (published in January 2017) was overly positive in places and did not adequately reflect some of the adverse evidence about Brook House obtained by HMIP.
  3. The Inquiry heard from many present at Brook House, in different roles, who said that they were unaware of the treatment of detained people shown on the Panorama programme.3 However, the IMB and HMIP are specifically tasked with upholding the UK’s commitment to prevent torture and ill treatment, and therefore they should be expected to identify indications of welfare concerns, even if they are missed by others. Some such concerns were identified by HMIP shortly before the relevant period, as discussed below, but they were insufficiently reflected in HMIP’s report.
  4. The Home Office and G4S placed wholly inappropriate weight on what they saw as reassurances from both the Brook House IMB and HMIP around the time of the relevant period. Neither the IMB nor HMIP can be expected to provide the level of scrutiny that G4S and the Home Office appear to have expected during the relevant period. Bodies such as the IMB and HMIP can only ever supplement – and not replace – the internal processes of the Home Office and its contractors to satisfy themselves about the treatment of detained people.
  5. Mr Ben Saunders (Centre Director for Brook House and Tinsley House (Gatwick IRCs) during the relevant period) said that he was reassured by the Brook House IMB presence. He noted that reports and audits at the time did not raise the sorts of issues that were identified in the Panorama programme.4 Mr Jeremy Petherick (Managing Director of G4S Custodial and Detention Services during the relevant period) said that, had anything been seriously wrong, he would have expected the signs to have been picked up by the Brook House IMB.5 His manager, Mr Peter Neden (G4S Regional President UK and Ireland), took comfort from the presence of the IMB and the fact that HMIP conducted unannounced inspections.6 However, Mr Neden accepted that he and the G4S management team “must have over-relied” on external bodies regarding the welfare of detained people.7 Mr Philip Dove (Director of G4S Health Services) found it difficult to understand why, if there were issues relating to Rule 35 of the Detention Centre Rules 2001, they were not raised by the Brook House IMB, HMIP or the Care Quality Commission, despite later acknowledging that the IMB had in fact raised concerns about the lack of Rule 35(1) and Rule 35(2) reports. He was unable to say whether this led to any action.8The Inquiry found that it did not (see Chapter D.5).
  6. Commenting on the evidence of G4S managers, the Brook House IMB noted:

“You may wonder how it is that a company the size of G4S, employing as many people as it did, operating a contract valued in the millions, say they came to rely quite so heavily on occasional HMIP visits and the nine unpaid members of the IMB.” 9

  1. That criticism also applies to the Home Office. Despite staff attending regular meetings and producing reports on matters at Brook House, the meetings and reports did not address the overall welfare of detained people.10 Ms Michelle Smith (Home Office Service Delivery Manager for Gatwick IRCs during the relevant period) said that she would have expected HMIP or the Brook House IMB to report on the overall welfare of detained people and that there was no requirement for the Home Office at Brook House to do so.11
  2. Inspection and monitoring bodies have an important role to play in monitoring welfare standards in IRCs, but they are only one element of what should be a robust internal and external monitoring system. IMBs are staffed by volunteers. Their access to IRCs, is limited by the number of visits they are afforded. They do not have specific training in issues such as the lawful use of force, nor do they have access to the contract for managing Brook House – much less a formal contract monitoring role. While they can raise concerns, they have no power to issue sanctions or otherwise enforce compliance.
  3. Critically, the duty to ensure that detained people are treated properly lies with the Home Office and its contractors. The Home Office has the primary responsibility for detained people and for ensuring that contractors comply with rules and contractual obligations in their management of Brook House. Contractors have the primary responsibility for day-to-day treatment of detained people and for the management of Brook House. There was a fundamental over-reliance by senior management within G4S and the Home Office on external organisations.12


  1. VER000138_004[]
  2. Callum Tulley 29 November 2021 106/12[]
  3. See, for example, Mr Stephen Skitt, Deputy Director of Brook House during the relevant period (SER000455_096-097 para 377); Detention Custody Manager Christopher Donnelly (SER000444_016 para 85); Mr Daniel Haughton, G4S Support Services Manager during the relevant period (SER000453_006-007 para 21; SER000453_022-023 para 91; SER000453_033 paras 147 and 148);DCO Shayne Munroe (INN000013_003 para 11; INN000013_048 para 148); Ms Anna Pincus, current Director of Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group (DPG000002_027-028 paras 70-75[]
  4. Ben Saunders 22 March 2022 105/2-13, 109/9-13[]
  5. Jeremy Petherick 21 March 2022 143/23-144/11[]
  6. Peter Neden 22 March 2022 6/18-23[]
  7. Peter Neden 22 March 2022 56/15-24[]
  8. Philip Dove 31 March 2022 121/3-125/18, 140/21-141/23[]
  9. Closing Statement on behalf of the IMB 6 April 2022 45/13-17[]
  10. See, for example, HOM0332004_003-004 paras 8b and 8g; HOM0332004_007 para 18; see also Chapter D.2[]
  11. Michelle Smith 23 March 2022 129/22-24[]
  12. The same issue had been identified in a report following the previous Panorama programme relating to a G4S-run centre. As discussed in Part B in Volume I, the Medway Improvement Board found that the Youth Justice Board had been over-reliant on external organisations, and that there had been a general and mistaken belief that, because Medway was being visited by multiple organisations, it was “safer” (INQ000010_039 para 3.62[]