Immigrants: Detainees

Home Office written question – answered on 4th December 2020.

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Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether women held at (a) Dungavel and (b) Colnbrook immigration removal centres have access to doctors and other medical staff with (i) knowledge of and (ii) expertise in gender-based violence; what assessment she has made of the effect of detaining women at immigration removal centres predominantly holding men on her ability to fulfil her duties under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 (Public Sector Equality Duty) b); and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The health and welfare of those in our care is of the utmost importance. The provision of 24-hour, seven-days-a-week healthcare in all immigration removal centres (IRCs) ensures that individuals held there have ready access to medical professionals and levels of primary care in line with individuals in the community, according to their clinical needs.

Detention Services Order (DSO) 06/2016 ‘Women in the detention estate’ sets out guidance for Home Office, supplier and healthcare staff on the care and management of women in immigration detention. The DSO ensures a consistent approach is taken by all centres that accommodate women, and that the female-specific needs of the population are met.

Victims of sexual or gender-based violence (including female genital mutilation) are covered by the adults at risk in immigration detention policy. Anyone who falls within the scope of the policy is regarded as unsuitable for detention unless the specific immigration circumstances in their case are considered to outweigh the vulnerability issues.

Healthcare in IRCs in England is commissioned by NHS England, who only commission evidence-based treatments approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). NICE provides guidance on the treatment of people who have suffered sexual or gender-based violence, which healthcare professionals in IRCs are expected to take into account. The revised Primary Care specification for IRCs acknowledges the importance of healthcare professionals delivering trauma informed interventions across the immigration detention estate.

The healthcare team at Dungavel, comprising registered nurses and NHS Scotland GPs, work to the standards set by ‘Equally Safe’, Scotland’s strategy to prevent and eradicate gender-based violence. In addition, all registered nurses at Dungavel are female and access to a female GP is available on request.

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