Inhumanity Unleashed: Intolerable Violence and Demeaning Treatment Plague Migrants in Brook House Detention Centre


Violence and Humiliation at Brook House Immigration Detention Centre: Damning Inquiry Reveals Shocking Findings

A recent independent inquiry into the treatment of migrants at Brook House immigration detention centre has uncovered a disturbing pattern of physical violence and humiliation inflicted on detainees by staff members. The inquiry was initiated in response to an undercover investigation conducted by the BBC in 2017, which shed light on the deplorable conditions and mistreatment experienced by migrants in the West Sussex facility.

The Gravity of the Situation: Violation of Human Rights

The independent inquiry’s findings revealed that nearly 20 incidents within just five months had the potential to qualify as a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 3 safeguards individuals from torture, degrading treatment, or punishment. These incidents include the application of pressure to a man’s neck, causing extreme distress, as well as inappropriate use of force against self-harming individuals and the infliction of unnecessary pain on detainees.

One particularly alarming revelation was the repeated use of a dangerous restraint technique, which had previously been connected to the death of detainee Jimmy Mubenga in 2010. The inquiry also exposed evidence of physical violence by staff against detainees and the use of force as a means to provoke or punish, rather than as a last resort.

A Toxic Culture: Mocking, Racist Language, and Intentions to Use Violence

The inquiry further discovered a deeply troubling culture at Brook House, characterized by a “mocking approach” towards detainees and the use of racist language. Shockingly, staff members were overheard discussing their intentions to use violence against detainees, with one officer even expressing the desire to punch a detainee in the face. In another instance, officers callously discussed detainees attempting suicide, dismissing their plight with remarks such as “Turn away and hopefully he’s swinging.” The inquiry documented instances of staff verbally abusing detainees, including threatening to put them to sleep.

The inquiry’s chair, Kate Eves, unequivocally rejected the Home Office’s portrayal of abuse as the actions of a small minority, describing the culture at Brook House as “toxic.”

A Harsh and Unsuitable Environment

Brook House is one of the ten immigration removal centres in the UK, housing individuals awaiting deportation or undergoing investigation into their immigration status. However, the inquiry found that the facility itself was harsh and unsuitable for detainees. Designed to the specifications of a Category B prison, it was overcrowded and lacked ventilation. Detainees slept in shared cells with unscreened toilets, while the prison-like environment aggravated their existing mental health issues.

Perhaps most distressingly, some individuals could be held indefinitely in the centre, with no clear end date to their detention. The inquiry highlighted the detrimental impact of these prolonged detentions on detainees’ well-being and mental health.

An Unapologetic Response and Reforms

Despite the shocking revelations, the Home Office’s director of immigration detention and escorting services, Phil Riley, offered apologies during the inquiry for the distressing incidents and acknowledged failures in the Brook House contract.

In response to the inquiry’s findings, the Home Office issued a statement condemning the abuse and emphasizing the significant improvements made since 2017. These improvements include strengthening safeguards, promoting transparency, and enhancing oversight of contractor performance. The Home Office expressed its commitment to ensuring safety and security in all immigration removal centres and learning from the Brook House events to ensure such abuses are never repeated.

Contractor Serco has taken over the management of Brook House, with G4S no longer involved. G4S expressed its support for the inquiry and committed to carefully reviewing the inquiry’s recommendations. The company acknowledged the unacceptable behavior demonstrated by some former employees in 2017 and emphasized subsequent actions taken to strengthen governance, improve detainee experiences, and enhance employee training and development.

The Lengthy Road to Change: Recommendations for Immigration Detention

The inquiry’s comprehensive examination involved analyzing over 100,000 pages of evidence, 90 hours of bodycam footage, and interviews with former detainees and staff members. As a result, the inquiry put forth 33 recommendations for the operation of immigration detentions.

One significant recommendation is that detention should not exceed 28 days. The Home Office will have six months to respond to these recommendations and consider how best to implement them.

The Human Cost: The Tragic Death Toll

Between 2017 and 2021, a devastating total of eleven deaths occurred during or shortly after stays in Home Office immigration detention facilities, as publicly available Government figures reveal. Unveiled in February, it was also disclosed that the Home Office covered the funeral expenses for six of the individuals who tragically passed away.

What is Immigration Detention?

Immigration detention refers to the practice of detaining individuals in immigration centres while their immigration status is being investigated or while they await deportation from the UK. Unlike the judicial system, the Home Office has the authority to detain individuals without going through the courts. Detention is meant to be a last resort, with Home Office policy and international law emphasizing the sparing and brief use of detention. Most detainees are held in Immigration Removal Centres, although migrants can also be detained in conventional prisons under immigration powers.


Micheal Kurt

I earned a bachelor's degree in exercise and sport science from Oregon State University. He is an avid sports lover who enjoys tennis, football, and a variety of other activities. He is from Tucson, Arizona, and is a huge Cardinals supporter.

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