May moves to counter criticism of detention facilities

The Home Secretary today announced an independent review into the welfare of immigrants held in UK detention centres prior to deportation.

Theresa May will be hoping to silence several years of criticism about the treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers – there have been a number of high-profile cases involving death, self-harm and sexual abuse in detention.

Her announcement will coincide with fresh criticism from the Tavistock Institute, a charity which investigated the specific failings in regard to detaining those with mental health issues.

In calling for a review, Ms May seems to have acknowledged that the existing system needs to be overhauled. This is a departure from the tough rhetoric on immigration that has come from fellow cabinet ministers and indeed, comments from junior ministers in her own department that procedures have been hugely improved by the coalition.

Ms May said: “Immigration detention is a vital tool in helping ensure those with no right to remain in the UK are returned to their home country.

“But I take the welfare of those in the Government’s care very seriously and I want to ensure the health and wellbeing of all detainees, some of whom may be vulnerable, is safeguarded at all times.

“We must ensure it treats those we are removing from the UK with an equal sense of fairness.”

The review will examine the Home Office’s current detention policies and what steps are in place to ensure the physical and mental welfare of those being held at 11 immigration removal centres around the UK.

These facilities are where migrant and asylum seekers are kept while a decision is made about whether or not they will be allowed to remain in the country. If an application is refused, the centres will also be used to hold the individuals prior to deportation.

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