Reports released by Independent Monitoring Boards which investigating conditions inside immigration facilities have found people seeking asylum by crossing the Channel are subject to “inhumane treatment”, leading to a shocking steep rise in self-harm and suicide risk.
Four separate monitoring bodies have for the first time examined from start of finish the process asylum seekers must go through when they arrive in the UK and the conditions they face.
Among the concerning findings were reports of 291 people being held in Dover without social distancing measures for over a day in September, and that people were moved from Dover to Yarls Wood without treatment for injuries that were in some cases quite severe.
The reports also catalogue many people being moved onto Brook House, a detention centre in Gatwick being used since March mainly for detention of asylum seekers crossing the Channel in small boats. Brook House has already been involved in an abuse scandal, exposed by Panorama in 2017.
On the 7th of October, 51% were deemed at risk of suicide at the centre. A freedom of information request by No Deportations, an anti-deportation campaign group also revealed there were 80 self-harm incidents that “required immediate medical attention”, a twenty-fold raise on the year before.
Evidence from the IMB reports state that vulnerability assessments were not completed before some people were forced onto chartered flights for deportation. It also has been stated previously that the Home Office wasn’t identifying people who were victims of trafficking before placing them in detention, potentially a breach of their responsibilities and the law. A decision made at the start of the pandemic to ask a much narrower set of questions in asylum screening interviews means people who arrive in the UK are now not even asked about their journeys and conditions they faced to get here.
Charities and lawyers have stated that this increase in incidents is down to the Home Office focusing on removing as many people as quickly as possible, rather than the welfare of those they have a duty of care for.
The Home Office have stated that they “take the welfare of people in or care extremely seriously. We have also improved our facilities in response to a rise in small boat crossings. These crossings are dangerous, illegally facilitated and unnecessary. We are committed to fixing the broken asylum system, to make it firm, fair and compassionate to those who need help.”
Criminalisation measures have now moved to encompass people seeking asylum who steer the boats people are seeking safety in, to then enforce criminal charges on people as soon as they land on UK shores. This comes despite the hundreds of drownings and incorrect assertions that the journeys and their facilitation by people seeking asylum are breaking the law.
The independent monitoring boards have written to the Home Office immigration minister Chris Philp with their concerns. They are yet to receive a response.
If you are seeking asylum in the UK you could benefit from the help of our Immigration lawyers in Manchester. They can assist you with your asylum claim and they also offer emergency consultations for those facing immigration detention or deportation. They will discuss your situation with you and make sure that you get the help that you need.
Header image [Picture-alliance/G.Fuller , infomigrants.net]