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Improvements to Dover Immigration Removal Centre

Dover Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) had made progress and improved in some key areas, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of an unannounced short follow-up inspection of the removal centre in Kent. There remained, however, a need for greater practical help for detainees.

Dover has operated as an immigration removal centre since 2002, receiving a number of fairly positive inspection reports over that period. At its previous inspection in 2010, inspectors reported that the centre provided a reasonably safe environment. This inspection found that considerable efforts had been made to carry out improvements and progress had been made in key areas.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • improvements had been made to the treatment of detainees on reception and induction;
  • the level of self-harming behaviour remained low and there was little evidence of bullying;
  • apart from the physical security, there was no evidence of the prison-like culture noted on previous inspections;
  • relationships between staff and detainees were good and the support provided to minority groups had improved;
  • a wide range of health services was now available and there had been a modest increase in the number and range of education classes; and
  • internet access and the facility to send emails had been introduced which made it easier for detainees to maintain contact with their family.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • the high number of movements of detainees at night continued to be disruptive;
  • there was a high level of strip searching and poor governance of it;
  • the quality of information provided by immigration staff to detainees about their cases had not improved and remained inadequate;
  • detainees were locked up for too long and experienced too many restrictions on their freedom of movement;
  • welfare support remained inadequate despite attempts being made to improve it; and
  • detainees did not receive sufficient practical help prior to discharge.


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