The prevention of deaths in detention is a priority for the Home Office. The adults at risk in immigration detention policy, which came into force on 12 September 2016, was part of the Government’s response to Stephen Shaw’s review of the welfare of vulnerable people in immigration detention. It introduced a case-by-case evidence-based assessment of the appropriateness of detention for any individual who is considered vulnerable, balanced against the immigration control considerations that apply in their case. Mr. Shaw’s follow up to his original review started on 4 September 2017 and will include an assessment of the implementation of all of his earlier review recommendations.
The treatment and health services received by individuals in immigration detention should be equivalent to that received by people in the community. Individuals are offered a physical and mental examination within 24 hours of admission to detention, and there is a requirement for IRC doctors to report to the Home Office any special illness or conditions that might affect the decision to continue the detention of an individual. There are also in place processes for staff to follow when there has been a change to the physical or mental health of a detainee, or a change in the nature or severity of their identified vulnerability, which may impact on the decision to detain.
Staff at all immigration removal centres (IRC) are trained to identify those at risk of self harm so that action can be taken to minimise the risk. All incidents of self harm are treated very seriously and every step is taken to prevent incidents of this nature. Formal risk assessments on initial detention and systems for raising concerns at any subsequent point feed into established self harm procedures in every IRC, which are in turn underpinned by the Home Office Operating Standard on the prevention of self-harm and Detention Services Order 06/2008 Assessment Care in Detention Teamwork (ACDT).
Each death in immigration detention is subject to investigation by the police, the coroner (or Procurator Fiscal in Scotland) and the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman. Every effort is made to learn lessons from these investigations.