Prisons: HMP The Verne

House of Lords written question – answered on 7th April 2014.

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Photo of Lord Roberts of Llandudno Lord Roberts of Llandudno Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether migrants detained in HM Prison The Verne from 24 March will have access to (1) Rule 35 procedures to determine whether their health would be damaged by detention, for example, due to a history of torture, (2) mobile telephones and the internet, (3) the ability to receive telephone calls from solicitors, family and friends, and (4) on-site legal advice surgeries; and if not, why not.

Photo of Lord Faulks Lord Faulks The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

HM Prison The Verne started taking immigration detainees as scheduled from 24 March 2014. The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) will retain The Verne as a prison in the short term. Its designation as a prison will be reviewed later this year, with the intention of completing the re-designation to an immigration removal centre by the end of September 2014.

While The Verne retains its designation as a prison it will be governed by Prison Rules rather than Detention Centre Rules. As The Verne is not governed by Detention Centre Rules, Rule 35 of those rules is not applicable.

Detainees held at The Verne will be treated in the same way as other detainees held within the prison estate. As such they will not have access to mobile telephones or the internet, nor will they be able to receive telephone calls. They will, however, be able to make telephone calls and will have access to both social and legal visits.

There is a dedicated Home Office Immigration Enforcement Team on site who will see detainees routinely on induction and upon request. In addition, independent immigration advice will be provided by Migrant Help.

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