Inspection report of pre-departure facility
The Chief Inspector of Prisons has recently carried out an announced inspection of Cedars pre-departure accommodation, where families are detained for up to a week immediately before removal. The centre has largely replaced the detention of children in Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre.
The inspection found the centre to be an exceptional facility that has many practices which should be replicated in other areas of detention. However, the inspection also raised a number of areas of concern.
Inspectors were pleased to find that:
- most of the work from Reliance escort staff was commendable and families were, in general, complimentary about their treatment during escort, even during the stressful removal stage;
- most of what inspectors saw from the point of arrival at the centre was good and it was clear that it had been designed around the needs of children and families;
- children were well occupied and said they enjoyed the care and stimulation they received at the centre;
- the level of care provided by the enthusiastic staff group was exceptional;
- the physical environment was clean, well maintained and attractive; and
- parents said that if they were to be removed forcibly, they would rather be held in Cedars for a short time, both to provide time for applications for judicial review, and to help them settle and prepare their children.
However, inspectors were concerned to find that:
- although considerable efforts were made to avoid force at the point of removal, it had been used against six of the 39 families going through Cedars;
- force had been used to effect the removal of a pregnant woman using non-approved techniques; and
- most work from family escort staff was commendable, but inspectors observed unprofessional behaviour by an officer on a different escort in the hearing of children.