LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Abuse and mistreatment remain endemic throughout immigrant detention centers in the UK, according to a new report by the Jesuit Refugee Service UK (JRS UK).

The agency on Wednesday published a new report, After Brook House: Continued Abuses in Immigration Detention, which says patterns of mistreatment detailed by the Independent Inquiry into events at Brook House Immigration Removal Center (IRC) are ongoing throughout UK immigration detention centers.

The Independent Inquiry was published in September 2023, six years after the BBC’s Panorama news feature program aired “Undercover: Britain’s Immigration Secrets” in 2017.

They aired covertly filmed footage of the Brook House immigration removal center between March and July 2017, showing the violence and distress felt by immigrants being held.

The Independent Inquiry identified a “toxic culture” and “credible evidence” of breaches of human rights law, as well as the use of racist, derogatory language by some staff towards detainees.

“Brook House was not sufficiently decent, secure or caring for detained people or its staff at a time when these events took place,” wrote Kate Eves, the chair of the 2023 inquiry, adding it was “entirely unsuitable for detaining people for anything other than a short period of time.”

JRS UK’s After Brook House report draws on a workshop and interviews with men and women detained within the last year at different immigration detention centers reflecting on the findings of the Brook House Inquiry Report.

After Brook House finds clear parallels between their experiences and the events described in the Brook House Inquiry Report.

“The abuse at Brook House in 2017 was not some sort of anomaly that can be brushed under the carpet as a one-off mistake,” said Sarah Teather, JRS UK’s Director.

“The experiences of the men and women who contributed to our research shows that the culture and practices brought to light by the Brook House Inquiry are still happening in detention centers across the UK,” she said.

“Immigration detention has destroyed too many lives, it must not be allowed to continue. It is beyond time to end the use of detention for immigration control,” added Teather.

Key findings of JRS UK’s research that show the continuation of abuses highlighted in the Brook House Inquiry Report include immigration detention in the UK entails incarceration in prison-like conditions; the UK is the only country in Europe without a time limit on immigration detention, noting long and indefinite detention are especially harmful; there are huge, routine deficiencies in healthcare; and force is used inappropriately, and often gratuitously, against detained people.

The new report also notes vulnerable people, including survivors of torture and trafficking, are routinely detained and kept in detention; which is “extremely damaging” for mental health; and there is a staffing culture of abuse and humiliation within detention centers.

Naomi Blackwell, the JRS UK Detention Outreach Manager, said that while working with people held in detention, the Catholic agency sees how badly it affects them.

“Time and again, you watch a person’s mental health deteriorate. And often, these are people who have already undergone torture, trafficking, or other serious traumas. Nothing has changed since the events at Brook House came to light. It really needs to change now,” she said.

Recommendations in After Brook House report include ending the use of detention for the purpose of immigration control; failing this, introducing a mandatory time limit of no more than 28 days for all those detained under immigration powers; requiring the decision to detain go before a judge; accept and implement the recommendations of the Brook House Inquiry Report to “prevent recurrence of mistreatment”; and repealing the Illegal Migration Act 2023 and reject the expansion of detention powers within it.

The Illegal Migration Act 2023 is the controversial legislation which seeks to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda, which JRS UK says will worsen the problems identified both by the Brook House Inquiry and its new research.

The British Home Office responded to the September 2023 report on March 19, 2024, saying the Panorama report was “utterly shocking, and the government has been clear from the outset that the sort of behavior on display from some of those staff was totally unacceptable.”

The Home Office said the government has made significant reforms to immigration detention over the past few years in line with external reports and recommendations.

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