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Concerns over detention time at Morton Hall, Swinderby

An independent inspection of an immigration detention centre found people were being detained for months ­— even though a judge had granted them bail or in cases where there was professional evidence they were at risk of harm if they remained.

In 2019, the five longest serving detainees at Morton Hall, Swinderby, spent between 388 and 784 days there.

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In its 2019 annual report, the Independent Monitoring Board ­— appointed by ministers to ensure detainees are treated humanely ­— commended the professional focus of staff on the safety, dignity and welfare of detainees, particularly those who are vulnerable or who exhibit challenging behaviour.

Also commended was the delivery of healthcare, education, library services, welfare support and purposeful activity.

There was a reduction in the number detained in the centre ­— down from an average of 293 in 2018 to 247 in 2019.

There was a substantial decrease in drugs and drug dealing. During 2019, 45 detainees were found under the influence of illicit substances compared with 227 in 2018.

But the report also highlighted concerns, including the uncertain nature of detention and long periods spent there, and the unsuitability of detention for men with severe mental health conditions.

In 2019, four men at Morton Hall were diagnosed with severe mental health conditions but stayed in detention for 15, 22, 52 and 70 days respectively, before being moved to specialised care settings.

The number of incidents of self-harm was a concern.

Chris Rose, board chairman, said: “We make a number of recommendations to the Home Office to reduce and minimise the need for immigration detention.

“We think there should be better screening and assessment of people with severe mental health conditions to avoid them being placed in detention.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “Detention is an important tool that helps us remove those with no right to be in the country, including dangerous foreign criminals.

“Detention decisions are made on a case by case basis, subject to regular reviews and any vulnerabilities are taken into account. We take the welfare of all immigration detainees very seriously.”

The full report is published on www.imb.org.uk/reports/

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