Asylum: Mental Health

Home Office written question – answered on 9th March 2022.

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Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of the impact of being held in immigration detention centres on the mental health of asylum seekers who have experienced (a) rape, (b) torture and (c) war.

Photo of Tom Pursglove Tom Pursglove Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office)

There is no exemption from immigration detention for any particular group. However, we fully accept that some groups of individuals can be at particular risk of harm in immigration detention. This is the basis of the Adults at Risk in immigration detention (AAR) policy, which strengthens the presumption against detention for vulnerable individuals.

The policy covers a wide range of vulnerabilities and includes people who suffer from a mental health condition. It enables Home Office staff to promptly identify whether a person is vulnerable and consequently whether they should be detained. Under the policy, vulnerable people will be detained only when the evidence of vulnerability in their particular case is outweighed by the immigration considerations, including immigration compliance, criminality factors and expected date of removal. The published Detention Services Order on supplements the statutory AAR policy, setting out operational guidance for all Home Office, centre supplier and healthcare staff working in the immigration removal estate on the care and management of adults in detention who are identified as being at risk.

Additional safeguards are also in place for those in detention displaying such vulnerabilities, including regular reviews of detention and reporting mechanisms, such as Rule 35 of the Detention Centre Rules 2001 and Rule 32 of the Short-Term Holding Facility Rules 2018, to ensure that particularly vulnerable individuals are brought to the attention of those with direct responsibility for authorising, maintaining and reviewing detention.

All immigration removal centres (IRC) have dedicated health facilities run by doctors and nurses which are managed by the NHS or appropriate providers and deliver trauma informed mental health service, where appropriate. In addition to published guidance, staff at all centres are also given training and support to proactively identify and act upon indicators of vulnerability at the earliest opportunity. Welfare teams are onsite at every IRC to assist detained individuals in accessing support specific to their needs.

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