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Cultural issues

  1. Racist language and actions, and a culture of bullying, bravado and ‘macho’ attitudes, underpinned a number of the events discussed in this Report. I also consider in more detail below the abusive and derogatory language used towards and about so many of the detained people. I observed explicit racism and tolerance of racism by others, along with a desire by some staff to ‘fit in’ and to appear ‘tough’ or masculine by adopting the aggressive culture of some existing staff. These aspects of staff behaviour cannot be separated from cultural issues. Prisonisation, dehumanisation, the ‘us and them’ attitude exhibited by many and the fundamental failure to understand the power imbalance all fed into and also fed off attitudes of racism and toxic bravado.

The prisonisation of Brook House

  1. Brook House was built to the specification of a Category B prison.1 It was not just the building that was prison-like; the regime, the way staff saw their roles and the treatment of detained people all demonstrated ‘prisonisation’ (which refers to a non-prison setting being treated, in effect, as a prison, with detained people treated as criminal and dangerous). Professor Bosworth described a prisonised setting as one in which “those who are detained are labelled and treated as risky and dangerous”, and in which detention officers come to feel that they are “working in an institution that was effectively a prison with people who were, therefore, criminal and dangerous”.2
  2. DCO Shayne Munroe told the Inquiry that some staff “thought they were working in a prison”.3 This manifested in the way they spoke to detained people. I find the use of prison-focused language entirely unsurprising, as I have no doubt that Brook House felt like a prison to many, particularly to the majority of detained people. Ms Munroe was aware that DCOs did not have the same powers as prison officers, and that they must instead “learn to talk to people, because that’s the most we can do”.4 I consider that a greater focus on the importance of communication skills would help DCOs to de-escalate some situations that, with more ‘prison-minded’ staff, may have resulted in conflict, use of force or removal from association.
  3. The 2016 HMIP inspection report noted that “elements of procedural security remained disproportionate to the risks of the population”.5
  4. The Inquiry noted similar issues. For example, DCO Darren Tomsett described a challenging role “controlling the door” and preventing detained people from moving from one wing to another. He did not know why they were not allowed to circulate freely around the building – he simply understood that he was “trying to maintain that control and security” and enforcing the rules.6
  5. A number of detention staff had previously worked in prisons or in private security.7 Many continued to perceive their role in this way. Mr Skitt, who had worked in prisons for 28 years, was recorded in the 2018 Verita report as saying that he “missed working in a prison”.8 It concluded that he gave an impression of feeling more comfortable “with the more disciplined and hierarchical working environment, practices and behaviours of the prison service and the military”.9)
  6. The focus on criminality and security from the ITC onwards encouraged staff to adopt, in many cases and often without question, a prison-like mentality.10 This is at odds with the purpose of an IRC.
  7. The starting point, as required by the Detention Centre Rules 2001, should have been the promotion of as much “freedom of movement” around Brook House as possible.11 Instead, many staff appeared to adopt a restrictive and prison-like approach. Mr Philip Riley, Director of DES within the Home Office, commented that “the regime there, and the culture, is anything but prison-like” and that “residents have free movement”.12 This does not reflect the reality of detention in Brook House. The 2016 HMIP inspection report noted that “detainees felt they were held in prison conditions”.13 During the relevant period, as today, people at Brook House were detained within a secure building and a high-walled perimeter. They were often locked in their cells, including overnight every night. This is not ‘free movement’. Based on the totality of the evidence that the Inquiry heard, the reality of day-to-day life for those detained at Brook House was that it was prison-like.
  8. The new contract with Serco now provides for an extended ‘core day’, meaning detained people may access activities off their wings until 21:00 and must be in their cells by 22:00, where they are locked in until 07:00. There are still two half-hour periods per day of lock-in for roll count.14 This amounts to an additional two hours of time out of the cell compared with the relevant period. Such efforts to increase free movement around Brook House, to provide diverting and beneficial activities and to soften the appearance (as previously recommended by the Brook House IMB, HMIP and Verita) must continue.15 This may help to prevent the building inevitably continuing to look (and perhaps feel) like a prison.

‘Us and them’ culture and dehumanisation

  1. Closely related to prisonisation was the existence of an ‘us and them’ mentality among staff towards detained people, which manifested at times in desensitisation to detained people’s needs, and ultimately in their dehumanisation by staff. The institutional emphasis on security and danger within Brook House created, for many, a volatile environment, far from the “safe and secure” setting required by the Detention Centre Rules 2001.11
  2. ITC materials repeatedly emphasised the risks of escape, physical assault and radicalisation.16 This set the tone for staff at Brook House. Officers were, as Professor Bosworth put it, “taught to think of the detained population as potential threats”.17 As a result, situations that could and should have been de-escalated instead led to the use of force and, at times, removal from association.
  3. The Inquiry heard evidence from staff members who described a fear of being attacked with boiling water. In a clip the Inquiry saw, alleged concern about a boiling kettle was used to justify force to remove D390 from his cell (see Chapter C.8 in Volume I). Separately, DCM Stephen Webb said:

“you could always tell the room of a foreign national offender … there would be a kettle half full of water … with an open bag of sugar, because if you do anything wrong, that sugar is going in the kettle and that kettle is going all over you … that’s known as ‘prison napalm’”.18

Mr Webb went on to say that sugared boiling water (the sugar causing more severe scalding) had not in fact ever been used as a weapon at Brook House.19 Later in his evidence it became apparent that Mr Webb had inaccurately recorded, on a Use of Force form, that hot water had been thrown over an officer, when in fact D642 had thrown the contents of a bottle of cold water.20 Mr Webb said he believed the water was hot at the time, “because that’s the worst-case scenario”.21 Mr Tulley told the Inquiry that, while he had heard staff talk of the use of hot or sugared water as a weapon from time to time, he knew of no examples of it happening, and considered it “came from a place of fear”.22

  1. This mentality gave rise to a more pervasive culture of ‘us and them’, exacerbated by a largely absent SMT, which led to more junior staff relying on one another ‘against’ the detained population. DCO Babatunde Fagbo described DCOs being “on the frontline” and disregarded by managers while having to deal with “the extreme pressure of the centre harbouring hardcore criminals”.23 This was not lost on detained people. D643 suggested that the “way you get treated is that the officers would talk about us as ‘they’”.24 When Mr Stephen Loughton (a DCM during the relevant period, now Assistant Director) was asked about Mr Tulley’s undercover reporting with the BBC, he said that it was a “challenging” job where staff received daily threats and abuse from detained people:

“so I think people felt let down by Callum because he was part of a team. It was a close-knit team, the staff, in those days. Everyone looked out for everyone. I think that’s why people felt let down by Callum.”25

  1. Mr Syred told the Inquiry of “gangs” or “cliques” of staff who saw detained people as “different humans”. By contrast, he enjoyed getting to know detained people and described asking himself, “if that was my son in detention in another country, how would I feel?”.26 He took admirable steps to communicate with residents, such as greeting people “in approximately 20 different languages”.27 Ms Munroe described asking detained people to teach her some basic words in their native language.28 These examples of friendly rapport-building stand in stark contrast to many interactions between staff and detained people.
  2. Other detention staff should have been encouraged to think and behave as Mr Syred did. Instead, Mr Syred’s empathy for those under his care, and his reporting of racist behaviour by others, led to him being mocked and ostracised by some staff, and he was insufficiently supported by senior management.29 His locker and a photograph of his face were defaced with “grass” and “nigger lover”.30 He told the Inquiry: “you could tell the culture of ‘Well you’ve just grassed on an officer who was really good at C&R. He was one of the lads.31 I accept his account, which reflects the ‘us and them’ attitudes described above. This culture played a part in enabling poor treatment of detained people, who were seen as ‘other’, while simultaneously making it less likely that staff would challenge or report each other. It led to those who spoke out, like Mr Syred and Mr Tulley, being seen as ‘grasses’ and traitors.
  3. Professor Bosworth highlighted three examples from the covert footage that she considered “instructive in thinking about staff culture”.32 The first was a clip of an incident on 25 April 2017 when a ligature was removed from D1527’s neck. He was spoken to aggressively and loudly by staff, and his distressing comments – including saying “I will die here” – were met with silence.33 The second featured a man on suicide watch, screaming from his E Wing cell, asking why he was still detained. He too was met with silence from staff.34 In the final example, DCO Aaron Stokes – in a conversation with staff about a man who had threatened suicide – said “he’s a bell end. Can’t keep up with him. ‘I’ll hang myself, I’ll hang myself.’ I don’t really care … just do it.35 Many other examples could have been chosen, all illustrating a culture in which staff had become desensitised to the distress of those under their care.
  4. The Inquiry also saw footage of occasions where staff, talking about a detained person, used the phrase “if he dies, he dies”.36 DCO Derek Murphy said during an investigation by G4S that this was a quotation from a film, although he apologised to the Inquiry for saying it.37 Mr Lake, who also used the phrase, claimed that he did not remember saying it but said it was “the culture at Brook House”.38 Mr Loughton was asked about others using the expression while discussing the planned use of force on D1914 on 27 May 2017 (see Chapter C.6 in Volume I). He did not accept that it was used in relation to D1914, when it clearly was, and said “it was talked about in the wing office at E wing” and “it was a bit of a joke”.39 I reject the attempts to justify these words. Their use was not only callous and unacceptable but betrays the extent of desensitisation to detained people’s health issues and vulnerabilities, and the dehumanisation of detained people by some staff. During his involvement with the Inquiry, D1914 watched footage of staff talking in this way about him regarding his heart condition and planned removal. Unsurprisingly, he found it disturbing and deeply upsetting. He felt he was seen as “sub-human – as a dog”.40
  5. Alongside the dehumanisation of detained people caused by the ‘us and them’ culture, many staff lacked healthy coping mechanisms for the undoubtedly genuinely difficult, stressful and at times traumatic situations in which they found themselves, particularly when dealing with detained people with complex problems. When asked about the conversation above, Mr Stokes told the Inquiry he had “cracked as a human being” at that point and was “overwhelmed with stress and trauma”.41 He said that traumatising events he had witnessed in Brook House had left him “numb”.42 In fact, on 5 May 2017, Mr Stokes requested a transfer to Tinsley House.43 He said he spoke to both Mr Skitt and Mr Saunders about being unable to “handle the stresses” of work at Brook House. He claimed that, despite referral to Healthcare, “nothing really changed”, and he was not offered any support or a transfer.44 DCM Nathan Ring told the Inquiry:

“seeing the things we saw and had to deal with it, if you couldn’t desensitise to a certain extent, it would probably have an effect on your mental health”.45

  1. Becoming desensitised to the suffering of detained people was not an acceptable response to these pressures. However, institutional as well as individual failures allowed this culture to take root. Self-harm was not unusual at Brook House in the relevant period. There were 248 open ACDT documents, and that statistic only covers the self-harm incidents that were formally recorded.46 It is therefore concerning that more attention was not paid to its impact on both detained people and staff. It was unacceptable that staff were not equipped in how to respond to self-harm in a way that supported detained people but also acknowledged the impact on their own wellbeing.

The power imbalance

  1. In a detention setting there is an inevitable power imbalance between the detained population and the staff. There was a lack of appreciation of this by many members of staff at Brook House.
  2. D643 described staff as engaging in arbitrary punishments, abuses of power and petty intimidation, such as denying him toilet roll or questioning why he needed it.47 D1851 gave a similar account.48 D643 also felt that placing letters (which may contain removal directions) under cell doors overnight was “very intimidating and very frightening”, as it felt like waking up to “an ambush”.49
  3. Mr Tomsett was filmed by Mr Tulley having a verbal altercation with a detained person, during which Mr Tomsett told the detained person he was “whining like a fucking girl” and told him to “man up”, saying that he would not listen to his “fucking bollocks”.50 In his statement to the Inquiry, Mr Tomsett gave the following context:

“The detainee involved had demanded new boxers, even though he had been given a full set of clothing, because his clothing was in the laundry. This request was properly refused by the officers, and the detainee became abusive and very rude.”51

Mr Tomsett said that he regretted the language used, but it was only during his oral evidence that he appeared to understand that it would be humiliating for an adult man to have to request clean underwear, and that there was an imbalance of power between him and the person making that request.52 This was one of multiple occasions on which Mr Tomsett appears to have behaved aggressively towards detained people who had made requests for basic items. Other instances included detained people asking for a curtain (used to divide the toilet from the sleeping area).53

  1. Mr Tulley told the Inquiry about incidents that he alleged he saw prior to the relevant period.

63.1 An event in around 2015, in which a detained person was naked and five or six members of staff (at least two being DCMs) were standing around him, laughing at him and making comments about his penis. Mr Tulley recalled that the detained person was “completely humiliated”.54

63.2 Prior to a restraint, DCM Graham Purnell shouting “bend them up” and “twist his wrist”, and calling a detained person a “fucking idiot”.55) In oral evidence, Mr Tulley said that Mr Purnell described detained people to him in disparaging terms on numerous occasions, often referring to them as “cunts.56 He also recalled one occasion in March 2016 when Mr Purnell mocked a detained person who was sitting naked on his bed, shivering and covered in faeces, sarcastically asked the detained person, “Do you need some toilet roll?”, and laughed at him with DCM David Roffey, after which they turned off the power in the cell. Mr Tulley described this as “sickening” and an “act of cruelty”, and said that the detained person remained in the same state a couple of hours later.57 In a statement to the Inquiry, Mr Purnell denied both allegations.58

  1. DCO Sean Sayers was asked about a recorded conversation with a detained person.59 The detained person said, “If they want to start on me, I don’t give a fuck, I’ll start”, to which Mr Sayers replied, “If you want to start on him, I’ll back you up.” Mr Sayers said he was not encouraging a fight; rather, he and the detained person “bounced off each other”, and it was “all one big joke … banter”.60 While he accepted this was not appropriate, he added:

“that was my way of connecting with him … do what they want to do to keep the peace as best you can, otherwise it was just going to be a problem for you constantly”.61

Mr Sayers seemed unable to accept that he was in a position of power over this detained person and others, and that, while such conversations may have made his life easier, they were completely inappropriate in that setting.62 If this was indeed commonplace, I am extremely concerned that more senior staff did not appreciate the issue and take action.

  1. It is entirely credible that matters about which staff may not have thought deeply (such as the delivery of letters) or conduct that they may have seen as ‘banter’ (such as delaying access to basic necessities such as toilet roll) felt both intimidating and humiliating to detained people, who were in an inherently more vulnerable position. The lack of understanding of the power dynamic sometimes manifested in directly abusive behaviour but also fostered a more insidious culture of belittling and ‘othering’ detained people. This was compounded by a failure by management to recognise and address the issue.

Bravado and machismo

  1. Professor Bosworth described a “masculine, authoritarian response” by staff to their roles, contributed to by the prisonised environment.63 Covert filming by Mr Tulley revealed:
  • staff telling one another, as well as detained people, to man up”;64
  • a detained person being told to stop acting like a girl”;50 and
  • detained people being accused of being a baby”, told, just fucking grow up, man. You’re a man”, and asked, “what are you, a man or a mouse?65

  1. This culture appears to have pervaded higher levels of seniority. Officers who were struggling were told to “just get on with it” or similar.66 Mr Fiddy described feeling undermined and belittled by Mr Williams within “quite a ‘man up’ culture”,67 and Mr Instone-Brewer, after being injured by a detained person, recalled being told to “man up” by Mr Skitt, although he was not sure how common this was.68 Mr Syred described how, when seeing new staff starting, he would wonder, “Which way are you going to go?”. He noted that some staff – to counterbalance fear on starting the role – would soon be heard speaking negatively about immigrants and asylum seekers generally. He considered they had decided to “join that gang to cover up their insecurities”.69
  2. Violence and violent language were extreme manifestations of the toxic culture and bravado. I made a number of findings in Part C in Volume I where the evidence suggests that staff were describing actual assaults on detained people. The Inquiry also heard many examples of staff speaking about violence.

68.1 DCO Ioannis (Yan) Paschali discussed “breaking bones”, DCO John Connolly described his role in a “fucking brutal” riot at Brook House in 2009 as “happy days”, and Mr Derek Murphy described threatening to “smash the fucking shit” out of a detained person.70

68.2 Asked about his suggestion – captured on covert footage – that Mr Tulley should give D1914 “a right hook”, Mr Lake told the Inquiry he was trying to fit in: “you get sucked into whatever the culture is”.71

68.3 Mr Tulley also told the Inquiry that DCO Jason Murphy had boasted that he had:

“used the riot shield to ‘smash’ the detainee to the back of the cell, before again using the shield to ‘floor him’, and then using it again to push his face into the detainee’s faeces and urine”.72

68.4 In March 2017, Mr Derek Murphy had “recently” bragged that he had kneed a detained person in the face during a restraint, and had ‘choke slammed’ a detained person who had attacked DCO Daniel Small.73 When asked about the latter incident in oral evidence, Mr Murphy said that he did not recognise it and would not have used a chokehold.74 In oral evidence, Mr Small accepted that this is what he had toldMr Tulley, but said he had embellished it for dramatic effect and that, in fact, it was the detained person who had put Mr Small in a chokehold, following which Mr Murphy “took [the detained person] to the ground”. Mr Small said that Mr Murphy “may have” used a chokehold but he could not recall, and that a manager was present.75

  1. While I consider that prisonisation played a large part in this, the “performance of masculinity” was also likely a reaction to the traditionally “feminised” roles detention staff in fact played, such as stripping beds, ensuring everyone had eaten, and providing clothing and toiletries. As Professor Bosworth put it:

“it’s much more exciting to think of yourself as being there in security, potentially dealing with somebody who might be dangerous and a threat, than … tell yourself that your job is to clean up after them and basically do women’s work”.76

  1. Rather than being alert to and eradicating any concerning signs of a macho-aggressive culture, the evidence shows that some managers fed into it. It is likely that the lack of effort to address it was in part due to wanting to retain those staff members who, like Mr Paschali, were seen as able to ‘handle things’. I can readily see that Mr Paschali would, inappropriately, have been an influential presence among a group of more junior, inexperienced or impressionable staff, as well as being a frequent choice for use of force incidents. As discussed in Chapter D.7, the repeated use of the same individuals for use of force roles contributed to an aggressive culture, desensitising staff and reinforcing unhealthy cliques.


  1. The Inquiry saw evidence of racist beliefs and words becoming part of the culture and being seen by some as a way to ‘fit in’. Although it was relatively rare for directly racist language to be used by staff towards detained people, it is likely that racially charged language towards detained people (such as “go back to your own country”, given the number of allegations about this kind of comment) was more prevalent and that racist comments among staff were common.77
  2. Ms Anna Pincus, current Director of Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group (GDWG), told the Inquiry that people formerly detained at Brook House reported having witnessed racist and other verbal abuse directed at them or others, including being called names such as “monkey” and “blacky”.78
  3. A particularly egregious instance of racist and derogatory language occurred on 17 May 2017.

73.1 Mr Connolly, a use of force instructor, was filmed covertly by Mr Tulley waiting in a stairwell with a group of other officers. The officers had been assembled in the event that they were needed to use force to remove D275 from the safety netting, where he was protesting. Mr Connolly told the officers that they should say, “listen here nigger. Listen to me. Do what you are told, nigger.79

73.2 Mr Connolly said, gesturing to the staircase, “That’s our justification. We fucking throw him in that corner.” He was also heard to say: “Fuck him up in the corner” and “Throw him down the fucking stairs. Go for it.79 At one point, Mr Small gestured up to a camera and said to Mr Connolly, “There’s a camera there, boss”, to which Mr Connolly appeared to reply, “I’ll scrub the cunt, no fucking problem.” Mr Connolly also talked about allowing D275 to bleed in the event that he cut himself with the razor blade, and said that he would whisper “dying” in his ear.80

  1. Following the Panorama programme, G4S carried out a disciplinary investigation into Mr Connolly’s comments. He denied that he used the word ‘nigger’ and suggested that the footage had been edited in a way that gave a falsely negative impression of his behaviour. The investigation found that he did indeed make the comments, and Mr Connolly’s employment was terminated.81
  2. The audio quality of the covertly recorded footage is variable. However, I found that all of the comments I have referred to could be heard clearly. The comments were also corroborated by the account given by Mr Tulley, both in his BBC video diary and in his later evidence to the police and to the Inquiry.82
  3. Ultimately, in his evidence to the Inquiry, Mr Connolly accepted that he did speak the words attributed to him, but maintained that “scrub the cunt” was incorrectly transcribed and was actually “grab the cunt”.83 However, the footage shows that Mr Connolly made the remark only after Mr Small had gestured up to a camera and commented about it. Given Mr Small’s gesture, I find that it is more likely that Mr Connolly used the word “scrub” in reference to deleting closed-circuit television (CCTV) evidence of an assault rather than using the word “grab”. That Mr Connolly told the Inquiry it was not possible to delete CCTV footage is not relevant to the question of whether or not he said the word.84
  4. During G4S’s disciplinary investigation into Mr Small’s conduct, Mr Small claimed that he had forgotten to report what Mr Connolly had said in the stairwell.85 However, in his evidence to the Inquiry, Mr Small said that he did not report what he had heard because he feared being labelled a “grass”.86 I find Mr Small’s explanation to the Inquiry more credible than his assertion to the G4S investigators. I heard evidence from a variety of witnesses about the consequences of reporting misconduct during the relevant period.87 I believe that staff who witnessed inappropriate behaviour by their colleagues did not routinely speak out.
  5. In her oral evidence to the Inquiry, Professor Bosworth discussed the incident on 17 May 2017. In her opinion, Mr Connolly had “an extremely violent way of thinking about his job and the man in question”.88 Professor Bosworth noted that, as Brook House’s use of force instructor, Mr Connolly was in a position of authority with the ability to communicate racist and violent views to other officers. She also noted that Mr Connolly appeared to feel able to communicate these views without fear of repercussions.89
  6. When asked about these comments, Mr Paschali told the Inquiry that he considered Mr Connolly’s comments should not be taken at face value, suggesting that it was “Just shit talk. That’s all I can put it down to, just nonsense, crap, which it shouldn’t have been said, but in that environment, at that time, it was like that.90 Other officers, both former and current, told the Inquiry that they were surprised by Mr Connolly’s comments in the footage and that they had not heard him use racist language.91
  7. Mr Connolly clearly used racist language and suggested that violence be used towards D275 on 17 May 2017. In line with Professor Bosworth’s analysis, I find it of particular concern that these two elements came together in a situation where the power imbalance between staff and a detained person was so pronounced. I believe that the language used by Mr Connolly on 17 May 2017 is indicative of the aggressive and unprofessional attitudes that flourished among some officers. Violent language was normalised, and detained people who were to be restrained were spoken about in a way that dehumanised them. There is no evidence of any violence or abuse towards D275 during or as a result of this incident. There is also no evidence to suggest that D275 was in the vicinity or was aware of what Mr Connolly had said. Although this incident did not meet the threshold for inclusion within Part C in Volume I of this Report, it remains among the most concerning instances of a detained person being referred to with such overtly violent, racist and abusive language.
  8. Several former or current staff members, either in oral evidence to the Inquiry or in written evidence, said that they did not witness any racism or racist language.92 While it is possible that some staff did not witness such behaviour, I think it is likely that many did and that it did not register with them at the time or has since been forgotten, or that witnesses were being untruthful in this regard.93)
  9. Mr Tulley’s view was that directly racist language such as the ‘N word’ was not commonplace, although anti-immigration rhetoric and language with racist undertones was.94 He said that racism was “certainly there”.95
  10. Mr Small said that racist comments along the lines of “too many Blacks” were used by everyone within Brook House and on a regular basis, estimating that it happened every week or so.96
  11. There were allegations of racism against Mr Tomsett from at least five detained people over a number of years, which he denied.97 Two detained people alleged that Mr Tomsett told them to go back to ‘their country’.98 He denied this, saying that he might have suggested they consider returning to their home country, which may have been “misconstrued”.99 Mr Tomsett said that ‘racist’ was a “loose term that was thrown around” in Brook House.100) He was recorded commenting that detained people wanted to come to the UK because of the “amazing benefits system” and “when they come over here, and they want this and they want that … how about we … sort out our own kids first”.101
  12. D1473 said that he heard another unknown officer, who was formerly in the military, telling a Black African detained person, “I used to kill people like you for fun.102 D790 and D180 recalled that officers were often very rude, aggressive and racist to detained people, saying things like “Fuck off back to your own country.103 D1713 described being told by a member of staff, “I would never lock up my dog but I would lock you up”, which he believed had “racial undertones”.104 D643 told the Inquiry that he and other detained people were subjected to overt racist abuse, including repeated use of the word “nigger” and staff saying “why don’t these blacks go back to their country” and “all the blacks are the same.105
  13. He recalled that Mr Purnell, DCO Joe Marshall and Mr Instone-Brewer had made racist comments, and that Mr Purnell was the officer who had called him a “nigger” in October 2016.106 Mr Purnell denied ever having used such language.107
  14. There were several occasions on which Mr Small was recorded making comments that, in my view, reflected deeply held racist attitudes that made him completely unsuitable for employment at Brook House.

86.1 On 29 April 2017, Mr Small described to Mr Tulley an occasion on which he had “lost [his] rag” with “an Indian bloke”, who he said had been swearing at him in a different language.108 He said, “I was like, you’re in fucking England, speak English.” Mr Small accepted in his evidence to the Inquiry that he realised at the time that this language was unacceptable.109

86.2 He was covertly recorded, in June 2017, saying that he did not like London because it was “Minority white people”, that White people would be the minority in the UK by 2050 and that he would not visit Cleveland, USA, because there were “too many Blacks”.110

86.3 On the day of the Grenfell Tower fire, Mr Small was covertly recorded as saying that it was “12 foreigners” who had been reported dead at that point, and Mr Tulley recorded in his video diary that evening that Mr Small had also said words to the effect of “oh well, that’s … a few less foreigners in England”.111 Mr Small told the Inquiry that he could not recall making the comment about “a few less foreigners” but, given his other comments and Mr Tulley’s near contemporaneous video diary recounting it, I think it is likely that he did make this comment. When asked about these comments in evidence, Mr Small said they did not reflect his actual views, that he was ashamed of the comments and that he had never made any racist remarks until he became a DCO and witnessed the casual use of racist language around him.112 However, I consider it likely that they reflected his actual views, although those views may have developed while he was working at Brook House.

  1. It was not disputed that Mr Small went on to say, “This job has made me racist.113 In his video diary that evening, Mr Tulley commented that Mr Small “wasn’t racist when he started working at Brook House. He spoke to detainees and treated detainees with respect.” While he believed Mr Small would never physically abuse a detained person, he said at the time of filming that “he looks at them as if they’re vermin”.114 Mr Small told the Inquiry:

“It changes a person working in that environment, it makes you angry working there … think of it as a sheep in the herd … just following suit what everyone else did.”115

  1. There is also evidence suggesting that detained people from particular nationalities were grouped together and/or stereotyped. Professor Bosworth described this as the “predominant form that racism takes” in IRCs and thought that it was “an inevitable part” of them.116 She noted that, generally, staff appeared to label young Black men as potential security threats but not older Asian men.117 This stereotyping was a further way in which detained people were ‘othered’ within Brook House. For example:
  • Mr Skitt stated that Albanians had no respect”, that Nigerian and Ghanaian people were litigious, that Chinese people liked sharing cells and that Congolese people and young Somalians were quite challenging.118
  • Mr Connolly was recorded saying, Black fellas. They think they are ‘it.119
  • D643 stated that officers were more ready to use physical force against Jamaicans.120
  • Mr Syred said that some staff would stereotype detained people for example, regarding all Somalians as pirates.121
  • D2033 described staff assuming that all Afghan detained people were connected to the Taliban.122
  • When interviewed for the 2018 Verita report, Dr Dominic Aitken (then a PhD student who spent a month at Brook House over June and July 2017) described that staff had a belief that Jamaican men were very chivalrous, which would lead to female officers carrying out their removals, and that Muslim men were very disrespectful, which would lead to male officers carrying out their removals.123

  1. Some Core Participants have argued that the Inquiry should conclude that there was institutional racism at Brook House during the relevant period.124 As noted in those submissions, the definition of institutional racism used by Sir William Macpherson in the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry was:

“The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people.”125

The context of this Inquiry – the treatment of foreign nationals while in immigration detention – makes it inevitable that issues of racism will arise. As set out above, I have found considerable evidence of racist beliefs and abuse by staff at Brook House. However, the Terms of Reference do not instruct me to investigate the issue of institutional racism, and to do so would have required a much broader investigation that would have strayed from the Inquiry’s core focus. As a result, I do not have sufficient evidence from which to reach a conclusion on whether institutional racism was present at Brook House. However, I have found that Brook House appears to have been a breeding ground for racist views in the relevant period and was perceived as an acceptable environment in which to express them.


  1. HMIP000311_0033 para 2.8; CJS000761_015 para S13[]
  2. INQ000064_016 para 3.16; Professor Mary Bosworth 29 March 2022 13/23-14/2[]
  3. INN000013_013 para 41[]
  4. Shayne Munroe 4 March 2022 24/3-16[]
  5. CJS000761_024 para 1.41[]
  6. Darren Tomsett 7 March 2022 10/15-11/25[]
  7. See, for example, Daniel Small 28 February 2022 107/15-17; SER000434_002 para 4; SER000455_001 para 3; IPA000001_001 para 2[]
  8. CJS0073709_069 para 7.13[]
  9. CJS0073709_069 para 7.13. Ms Michelle Brown, a member of the SMT, also recalled Mr Skitt continuously using prison terminology (INQ000164_006 para 7). DCO Ryan Bromley referred to working “in the security industry” when describing an assault by a detained person; see also Ryan Bromley 7 March 2022 132/8-9 and Mr Philip Dove (Director of G4S Health Services), who referred to Mr Skitt as “director of the prison” (Philip Dove 31 March 2022 149/21[]
  10. For example, the training materials and timetable summarised at INQ000064_016 paras 5.5-5.6[]
  11. Detention Centre Rules 2001, Rule 3[][]
  12. Philip Riley 4 April 2022 60/12-25[]
  13. CJS000761_018 para S36[]
  14. SER000026_009-010[]
  15. HMIP000613_020 para S36; HMIP000613_028 para 1.59; HMIP000613_045 para 3.16; IMB000156_005; Independent Investigation into Concerns about Brook House Immigration Removal Centre, Verita, October 2018, paras R17 and R23[]
  16. INQ000064_030 para 5.6; INQ000064_015-016 paras 3.12-3.13; CJS006350[]
  17. INQ000064_015 para 3.12[]
  18. Stephen Webb 8 March 2022 148/10-20[]
  19. Stephen Webb 8 March 2022 148/6-149/2[]
  20. Stephen Webb 8 March 2022 156/21-160/21; CJS005587[]
  21. Stephen Webb 8 March 2022 158/25[]
  22. Callum Tulley 9 March 2022 157/13-18[]
  23. BFA000002_007[]
  24. D643 22 February 2022 90/4-9[]
  25. Stephen Loughton 1 March 2022 136/7-138/5; see also INQ000001[]
  26. Owen Syred 7 December 2021 97/1-15[]
  27. INN000007_015 para 66[]
  28. INN000013_013 para 39[]
  29. Owen Syred 7 December 2021 107/6-11, 110/6-20, 116/21-117/5, 122/2-7[]
  30. Owen Syred 7 December 2021 117/16-17[]
  31. Owen Syred 7 December 2021 117/25-118/2[]
  32. INQ000064_009 para 2.15[]
  33. INQ000064_009 para 2.15[]
  34. INQ000064_009 para 2.16[]
  35. TRN0000094_054 lines 1845-1846[]
  36. Shown on transcript as DCO David Webb (TRN0000087_016 – although he denied being the person who said this, and noted that there were a number of people in the room: David Webb 3 March 2022 129/4-5), Daniel Lake (TRN0000087_019) on 27 May 2017 and Derek Murphy (TRN0000092_040) on 14 June 2017[]
  37. CJS005928; Derek Murphy 2 March 2022 86/14-16[]
  38. Daniel Lake 1 March 2022 42/13-22[]
  39. Stephen Loughton 1 March 2022 114/2-116/17[]
  40. DL0000229_039 para 138[]
  41. Aaron Stokes 9 March 2022 201/12-14, 202/19-22[]
  42. Aaron Stokes 9 March 2022 199/1-10[]
  43. INQ000130_002 para 4[]
  44. Aaron Stokes 9 March 2022 171/11-174/1[]
  45. Nathan Ring 25 February 2022 101/20-23[]
  46. Sandra Calver 1 March 2022 224/15-22. Figures originally derived from the following IMB reports: IMB000021; IMB000050; IMB000011; IMB000047; IMB000019[]
  47. DL0000228_040-41 para 145; D643 22 February 2022 45/3-6[]
  48. D1851 3 December 2021 75/10-76/1[]
  49. D643 22 February 2022 45/3-46/19[]
  50. TRN0000080_002-003[][]
  51. INN000024_041 para 143[]
  52. INN000024_043 para 146; Darren Tomsett 7 March 2022 27/17-29/25[]
  53. TRN0000080_002; TRN0000080_016-017; INN0000024_042-043 paras 145-146; CJS001443_004-005; HOM002190 row 11[]
  54. Callum Tulley 29 November 2021 70/19-77/19; INQ000052_011-015 paras 44-62[]
  55. CPS000024_004-005 (this was recorded at the time by Mr Tulley as Graham ‘Panel’, but is understood to be Mr Purnell[]
  56. Callum Tulley 29 November 2021 91/24-92/1[]
  57. Callum Tulley 1 December 2021 50/22-57/20; INQ000052_049-050 para 194[]
  58. BDP00008_003 paras 8-10[]
  59. TRN0000081_012[]
  60. Sean Sayers 10 March 2022 147/1-16[]
  61. Sean Sayers 10 March 2022 148/8-20[]
  62. Sean Sayers 10 March 2022 173/23-174/15[]
  63. Professor Mary Bosworth 29 March 2022 63/6-14[]
  64. TRN0000080_002-003; Derek Murphy 2 March 2022 8/12[]
  65. TRN0000002_009; Ioannis Paschali 24 February 2022 44/13-17; TRN0000002_009 (DCO Charles Francis to D1527)[]
  66. Edmund Fiddy 7 March 2022 156/10-19; Daniel Small 28 February 2022 111/19-22; Derek Murphy 2 March 2022 7/17-19[]
  67. Edmund Fiddy 7 March 2022 154/16-23[]
  68. Luke Instone-Brewer 8 March 2022 35/8-36/19[]
  69. Owen Syred 7 December 2021 97/24-98/14[]
  70. TRN0000077_045; TRN0000085_024; TRN0000024_003[]
  71. Daniel Lake 1 March 2022 45/22-46/1[]
  72. INQ0000052_046-047 para 184[]
  73. CPS000024_005[]
  74. Derek Murphy 2 March 2022 23/19-26/4[]
  75. Daniel Small 28 February 2022 152/12-158/3; BDP000003_015 para 44[]
  76. Professor Mary Bosworth 29 March 2022 64/19-65/1[]
  77. See, for example, DPG000040_014-015 paras 62-64; DPG000021_026 para 83; DPG000021_027 para 87; HOM002190_001 row 3; DPG000002_024 para 63; GDW000010_004-005[]
  78. Anna Pincus 9 December 2021 79/8-80/13; DPG000002_025 para 64; GDW000010_004-005[]
  79. Day 20 PM 28 February 2022 01:39:12-01:40:09 (KENCOV1019 – V2017051700016); TRN0000085_044-047[][]
  80. KENCOV1019 – V2017051700018[]
  81. HOM001428[]
  82. TRN0000053_031; SXP000120_007-008; INQ000052_044-045 paras 174-177; Callum Tulley 2 December 2021 46/15-19, 47/25-57/12[]
  83. SER000442_014 para 24[]
  84. John Connolly 2 March 2022 193/1-194/12[]
  85. CJS006639_005[]
  86. BDP000003_015-016 para 45; Daniel Small 28 February 2022 159/24-160/2[]
  87. Owen Syred 7 December 2021 116/18-123/6; Callum Tulley 30 November 2021 3/13-9/19, 157/14- 168/6; Callum Tulley 1 December 2021 1/1-2/24; DL0000141_105-106 paras 302-305; Reverend  Nathan Ward 7 December 2021 187/23-191/19[]
  88. Professor Mary Bosworth 29 March 2022 102/21-22[]
  89. Professor Mary Bosworth 29 March 2022 103/21-104/4[]
  90. Ioannis Paschali 24 February 2022 26/21-24[]
  91. Derek Murphy 2 March 2022 11/3-19; Christopher Donnelly 23 February 2022 89/22-90/22[]
  92. Daniel Lake 1 March 2022 48/6-15; Charles Francis 3 March 2022 15/18-25; Nathan Ring 25 February 2022 35/18-37/21; Ioannis Paschali 24 February 2022 60/2-63/2; Christopher Donnelly  23 February 2022 68/10-16, 82/11-17. Additionally, 34 out of 35 former staff members who provided responses to questionnaires submitted by the Inquiry said that they had not experienced any racist attitudes or behaviours[]
  93. For example, Mr Lake said in his statement that he could not remember any instances of racism by any member of staff (BDP000002_007-008 para 22) but he was present when Mr Small used extremely racist language (TRN0000079_010; see Daniel Lake 1 March 2022 48/6-15[]
  94. Callum Tulley 2 December 2021 46/20-23, 57/11-12[]
  95. Callum Tulley 2 December 2021 56/25-57/1[]
  96. Daniel Small 28 February 2022 137/10-18[]
  97. D180, D4277, D381, D668 and D4049: CJS001443_001-005; INN000024_051-052 para 171; HOM002190_001 row 5; D668 6 December 2021 88/24-92/16; HOM002547; INN000024_056-057 paras 183-186; TRN0000080_002; Darren Tomsett 7 March 2022 44/19-20, 49/5-50/17, 62/24- 63/23[]
  98. DPG000040_034 para 64; INN000024_050 para 169; HOM002190 row 3[]
  99. Darren Tomsett 7 March 2022 44/3-45/1[]
  100. INN000024_056-057 para 183. This suggestion was supported by a member of Healthcare staff at Brook House (see HOM002748_032 para 7.4.8[]
  101. TRN0000083_015-016[]
  102. BHM000039_008 para 41[]
  103. DPG000022_008-011 paras 29-40; DPG000040_014-015 paras 62-64[]
  104. BHM000018_005 para 22; BHM000018_009 para 34[]
  105. DL0000228_039 para 14; D643 22 February 2022 40/4-5; DL0000228_039 para 142; DL0000228_039 para 142[]
  106. D643 22 February 2022 40/23-41/4; DL0000228_019-020 paras 74-76; DL0000228_039 para 142[]
  107. BDP00008_002 para 5[]
  108. TRN0000021_007[]
  109. Daniel Small 28 February 2022 134/5-21[]
  110. TRN0000079_010[]
  111. TRN0000092_021; TRN0000092_022; TRN0000101_010; TRN0000068_006-007[]
  112. Daniel Small 28 February 2022 146/5-147/17[]
  113. TRN00000092_050[]
  114. TRN0000068_009-010[]
  115. Daniel Small 28 February 2022 147/19-23, 149/22-24[]
  116. Professor Mary Bosworth 29 March 2022 35/7-36/19[]
  117. INQ000064_040 para 8.7[]
  118. VER000248_016; VER000248_022-023[]
  119. TRN0000085_035[]
  120. D643 22 February 2022 41/22-25[]
  121. INN000007_028 para 115[]
  122. D2033 10 December 2021 127/1-10[]
  123. VER000257_007-008[]
  124. For example, Core Participant Group Closing Statement, Brook House Inquiry, 3 May 2022, paras 214-231[]
  125. Core Participant Group Closing Statement, Brook House Inquiry, 3 May 2022, para 215; Report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, Cm 4262-1, February 1999, para 6.34[]