Shaw: Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons

A very important report to the Home Office by Stephen Shaw: [before you press ‘print’  this is 349+ pages long]

The Shaw review makes over 60 recommendations, which … Courtesy of ein  … are excerpted below:

Recommendation 1: I recommend that the Home Office prepare and publish a strategic plan for immigration detention.

Recommendation 2: The Home Office should consider how far it can encourage a more cohesive system through more joint training and planning, shared communications, and a recognition scheme.

Recommendation 3: Where weaknesses in particular policies have been identified in Mr Cheeseman’s audit, I recommend these be remedied at their next iteration.

Recommendation 4: I recommend that work to amend the Detention Centre Rules commence following the Home Office’s consideration of this review.

Recommendation 5: I recommend that the Home Office draw up plans either to close Cedars or to change its use as a matter of urgency.

Recommendation 6: Given my observations at each of the Heathrow terminals and at Cayley House, Tascor should arrange for refresher training for its staff on their duty of care, and the need for proper and meaningful engagement with detainees.

Recommendation 7: I recommend that a discussion draft of the short term holding centre rules be published as a matter of urgency.

Recommendation 8: The Home Office should review the adequacy of the numbers of immigration staff embedded in all prisons.

Recommendation 9: I recommend that there should be a presumption against detention for victims of rape and other sexual or gender-based violence. (For the avoidance of doubt, I include victims of FGM as coming within this definition.)

Recommendation 10: I recommend that the Home Office amend its guidance so that the presumptive exclusion from detention for pregnant women is replaced with an absolute exclusion.

Recommendation 11: I recommend that the words ‘which cannot be satisfactorily managed in detention’ are removed from the section of the EIG that covers those suffering from serious mental illness.

Recommendation 12: I recommend that those with a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder should be presumed unsuitable for detention.

Recommendation 13: I recommend that people with Learning Difficulties should be presumed unsuitable for detention. 194

Recommendation 14: I recommend that transsexual people should be presumed unsuitable for detention.

Recommendation 15: I recommend that the wording in paragraph 55.10 of the EIG in respect of elderly people be tightened to include a specific upper age limit.

Recommendation 16: I recommend that a further clause should be added to the list in paragraph 55.10 of the EIG to reflect the dynamic nature of vulnerability and thus encompass ‘persons otherwise identified as being sufficiently vulnerable that their continued detention would be injurious to their welfare’.

Recommendation 17: I recommend that the Home Office consider establishing a joint policy with NOMS on provision for those held in prison under immigration powers.

Recommendation 18: I recommend that the Home Office consider what learning there is for IRCs from the Prison Service’s experience of operating ‘first night centres’ for those initially received into custody.

Recommendation 19: The Home Office should consider the need for a separate DSO on LGBI detainees. Anti-bullying policies should include explicit reference to LGBTI detainees.

Recommendation 20: The Home Office should consider introducing a single gatekeeper for detention.

Recommendation 21: I recommend that the Home Office immediately consider an alternative to the current rule 35 mechanism. This should include whether doctors independent of the IRC system (for example, Forensic Medical Examiners) would be more appropriate to conduct the assessments as well as the training implications.

Recommendation 22: I further recommend that rule 35 (or its replacement) should apply to those detainees held in prisons as well as those in IRCs.

Recommendation 23: Once the NOMS review of ACCT is complete, there should be an urgent review of ACDT and DSO 06/2008, informed by the NOMS review and by the findings of this report.

Recommendation 24: I note that DSO 03/2013 on food and fluid refusal is currently the subject of internal review within the Home Office. I recommend that the review consider alternatives to treatment within a prison or IRC in light of my discussion of this issue. 195

Recommendation 25: I recommend that the Home Office commission a formal review of the quality of PERs and that any deficiencies are addressed. In the meantime, all staff should be reminded of the importance of completing PERs fully.

Recommendation 26: I recommend that the Home Office consider how rapidly it can move towards a system of electronic record keeping for the PER and IS91RA.

Recommendation27: I recommend that the Home Office conduct an annual audit (or ask for an independent audit) of the RSRA process so that it remains an effective means of ensuring detainee safety.

Recommendation 28: The Home Office should consider if the allocation criteria and processes to which DEPMU operates could be strengthened.

Recommendation 29: I recommend that the Home Office and the Department of Health work together to consider whether current arrangements for safeguarding are adequate.

Recommendation 30: The internet access policy should be reviewed with a view to increasing access to sites that enable detainees to pursue and support their immigration claim, to prepare for their return home, and which enable them to maximise contact with their families. This should include access to Skype and to social media sites like Facebook.

Recommendation 31: I recommend that the Home Office reconsider its approach to pay rates for detainees in light of my comments on the benefits of allowing contractors greater flexibility.

Recommendation 32: I recommend that all IRCs should review the range of activities offered to detainees; in particular, those that could provide skills to detainees that would be useful on their return to their home country.

Recommendation 33: I recommend that the Home Office review detainees’ access to natural light and to the open air, and invite contractors to bring forward proposals to increase the time that detainees can spend outside.

Recommendation 34: The Home Office should no longer require contractors to operate an Incentives and Earned Privileges Scheme.

Recommendation 35: I recommend that the service provider at Yarl’s Wood should only conduct searches of women and of women’s rooms in the presence of men in the most extreme and pressing circumstances, and that there should be monitoring and reporting of these cases.

Recommendation 36: I recommend that Home Office Detention Operations carry out an audit of reception and holding environments to ensure that the policy on searching out of sight of other people is properly followed. 196

Recommendation 37: I recommend that the Home Office consider amalgamating and modernising rules 40 and 42.

Recommendation 38: The Home Office should review all the rule 40 and rule 42 accommodation to ensure that it is fit for purpose. All contractors should be asked for improvement plans to ensure that the name Care and Separation Unit is something more than a euphemism.

Recommendation 39: I recommend that the Home Office should routinely publish statistics on the number of transfers of detainees between IRCs and STHFs.

Recommendation 40: The Home Office should review the use made of regional airports for removals.

Recommendation 41: I recommend that the Home Office negotiate night-time closures at each IRC, the times of which should reflect local circumstances.

Recommendation 42: I recommend that the practice of overbooking charter flights should cease.

Recommendation 43: I recommend that the Home Office consider if the inspection arrangements for IRCs can ensure the involvement of the ICI.

Recommendation 44: I recommend that the Home Office liaise with the Ministry of Justice to ensure that all IMBs in IRCs have sufficient membership at all times.

Recommendation 45: I recommend that the Home Office seek the views of the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Health on extending section 75 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to IRCs, prisons and mental hospitals.

Recommendation 46: I recommend that the Home Office review the use of fellow detainees as interpreters for induction interviews.

Recommendation 47: I recommend that the Home Office remind service providers of the need to use professional interpreting facilities whenever language barriers are identified on reception.

Recommendation 48: Home Office staff should be reminded that, to ensure continuity of care, detainees should not be transferred when there is clinical advice to the contrary.

Recommendation 49: The Home Office and NHS England should promote the self-administration of drugs where risk assessments support that approach. 197

Recommendation 50: I recommend that the Home Office, in consultation with NHS England, draw up explicit guidelines as to: • What informed consent looks like • What information can be shared between all parties in the event that informed consent to the release of clinical information is granted by the detainee.

Recommendation 51: I further recommend that an alternative to SystmOne be pursued for those detention facilities not in England.

Recommendation 52: As part of its response to future growth in the demand for healthcare, NHS England needs to ensure the filling of permanent healthcare vacancies in IRCs as a priority.

Recommendation 53: I recommend that the Home Office, in association with service providers, consider what can be done to reduce the use of new psychoactive substances and to advise detainees on the effects of their misuse.

Recommendation 54: The Home Office should draw up a research strategy for immigration detention. In particular, it should consider commissioning clinical studies on the impact of detention upon women, and research aimed at improving models of care.

Recommendation 55: The Home Office and NHS England should conduct a clinical assessment of the level and nature of mental health concerns in the immigration detention estate.

Recommendation 56: I recommend that the creation of care suites across the IRC estate should be taken forward as a priority.

Recommendation 57: I recommend that talking therapies become an intrinsic part of healthcare provision in immigration detention.

Recommendation 58: I recommend that the Home Office, NHS England, and the Department for Health develop a joint action plan to improve the provision of mental health services for those in immigration detention.

Recommendation 59: I recommend that all caseworkers should meet detainees on whom they are taking decisions or writing monthly detention reviews at least once. The meeting should be face-to-face, or by video link, or by telephone.

Recommendation 60: The Home Office should examine its processes for carrying out detention reviews, including looking at training requirements, arrangements for signing off cases at a senior level, and auditing arrangements. 198

Recommendation 61: As part of the examination of its own processes that I have proposed, I recommend that the Home Office consider if and what ways an independent element can be introduced into detention decision making.

Recommendation 62: I recommend that the Home Office give further consideration to ways of strengthening the legal safeguards against excessive length of detention.

Recommendation 63: I recommend that the Home Office investigate the development of alternatives to detention.

Recommendation 64: I recommend that the Home Office consider how far electronic monitoring can contribute to the goal of fair and efficient border control.

They work for you:

Paul Blomfield Labour, Sheffield Central: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will publish a response to each of the recommendations made in Stephen Shaw’s Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons, Cm 9186, before Report Stage on the Immigration Bill in the House of Lords. Hansard source(Citation: HC Deb, 22 January 2016, cW)
James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration): The Home Office has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.

Free Movement: The review by Stephen Shaw into the welfare in immigration detention of vulnerable persons has been published today. The Government has responded stating that it “accepts the broad thrust of his recommendations” and that the Home Office expects its reforms reduce the number of those detained reduce and the duration of detention before removal.

There is no recommendaton for a time limit on detention and the Government has no plans to introduce any such limit. Without a limit, reforms are likely to be prove ineffective because civil servants and contractors have no incentive to use detention powers sensibly.

The review finds that:

  • The pre-departure accommodation at Cedars for families with children should be closed or its use changed on the basis that it is “a misdirection of public money that could be better used for other purposes” and that “the current use of the centre is simply unacceptable at a time of financial austerity”.
  • An absolute rule against detention of pregnant women should be introduced.
  • Those with serious mental illnesses should not be subject to immigration detention on the basis that their condition can be adequately managed in detention.
  • The presumption agaisnt detention should be extended to victims of rape and sexual violence, to those with a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, to transsexual people, and to those with Learning Difficulties.
  • Rule 35 “does not do what it is intended to do” which is to protect vulnerable people who find themselves in detention. Shaw recommends that the Home Office immediately consider an alternative to the current rule.
  • There is a culture of disbelief amongst some staff. Shaw recommends that all caseworkers should meet detainees on whom they are taking decisions or writing monthly detention reviews at least once. The meeting should be face-to-face, or by video link, or by telephone.
  • There have been six cases in which the courts have found that the Home Office has acted in breach of Article 3 ECHR in its treatment of individual detainees and this is a matter of acute concern. These cases are found to suggest a particular need to focus upon healthcare assessment and treatment, upon failings in detention reviews, and failures in communication between different agencies. It is suggested the cases may indicate problems with attitude and cynicism on the part of some detention and Home Office staff.
  • The contractual requirement for an Incentives and Earned Privileges scheme at detention centres should be ended. It is an example of “unthinking application of Prison Service practice into immigration detention”.
  • The Home Office should review its processes for conducting detention reviews, including if and in what ways an independent element could be introduced. Further consideration should be given to ways of strengthening the legal safeguards against excessive length of detention.
  • The Home Office could show “much greater energy” in its approach to the use of alternatives to immigration detention.
  • A smaller, more focused, strategically planned immigration detention estate, subject to the many reforms outlined in the report, would both be more protective of the welfare of vulnerable people and deliver better value for the taxpayer.

Shaw suggests a much more open approach by the Home Office in future, including drawing up a research strategy for immigration detention.

In response, Minister James Brokenshore has stated that the Government “welcomes this important contribution to the debate about effective detention, and accepts the broad thrust of his recommendations”. Three key areas of reform will be taken forward:

  1. A wider definition of those at risk will be introduced, including victims of sexual violence, individuals with mental health issues, pregnant women, those with learning difficulties, post-traumatic stress disorder and elderly people, and to recognise the dynamic nature of vulnerabilities. A new “adult at risk” concept will be introduced into decision-making on immigration detention with a clear presumption that people who are at risk should not be detained.
  2. A new inquiry into mental health needs in Immigration Removal Centres will be carried out using the expertise of the Centre for Mental Health. This will report in March 2016.
  3. The existing detention review process will be replaced with a removal plan for all those in detention. This will supposedly lead to more focus on and momentum towards removal. A more rigorous assessment of who enters detention through a new gate-keeping function is proposed.

Brokenshire’s statement ends:

The Government expects these reforms, and broader changes in legislation, policy and operational approaches, to lead to a reduction in the number of those detained, and the duration of detention before removal, in turn improving the welfare of those detained. Immigration Enforcement’s Business Plan for 2016/17 will say more about the Government’s plans for the future shape and size of the detention estate.

The scope of the Shaw review was always too narrow, in that there was no review of the necessity or wisdom of immigration detention nor of the potential effect that a time limit on detention would have, but the findings are nonetheless highly critical of the current system of immigration detention.

Source: Review into the welfare in detention of vulnerable persons – Publications – GOV.: 

Posted by Rachel Robinson on 14 January 2016

In a 364-page report released today, former Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Stephen Shaw CBE delivers a serious blow to an immigration detention system creaking under the strain of widespread condemnation.

The Shaw Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons concludes: “there is too much detention; detention is not a particularly effective means of ensuring that those with no right to remain do in fact leave the UK; and many practices and processes associated with detention are in urgent need of reform”.

“Detention in and of itself undermines welfare and contributes to vulnerability.”

The Review emphasises evidence showing “incontrovertibly that detention in and of itself undermines welfare and contributes to vulnerability.” His conclusions are powerful and place beyond doubt the need for immediate reform.

An affront to civilised values

The scandal of detaining pregnant woman must now come to an end – the Shaw Review recommends that “the presumptive exclusion of pregnant women should be replaced by an absolute exclusion”.

It draws on evidence from all corners of the globe that immigration detention has a negative impact on detainees’ mental health – and that the impact increases the longer detention continues. For the many people suffering from serious mental illness in our detention estate, Shaw argues for a removal of the caveat that detention can continue where a condition can be “managed” in detention.

His message to Government is simple: “it is perfectly clear to me that people with serious mental illness continue to be held in detention and that their treatment and care does not and cannot equate to good psychiatric practice (whether or not it is ‘satisfactorily managed’). Such a situation is an affront to civilised values”.

Following on from last year’s harrowing HMIP report on Yarl’s Wood removal centre, which focused in particular on healthcare failings, the Shaw Review has uncovered yet more evidence of a culture of cynicism amongst detention staff.

It outlines reports of “interruptions of treatment for those on drug regimes, either because of poor clinical assessment or because medications were not obtained from detainees’ homes at the time of their detention” – and emphasises that such practices are clinically dangerous and must stop.

The Rule 35 medical report process, designed to identify and protect victims of torture from detention, “does not do what it is intended to do – to protect vulnerable people who find themselves in detention”. The Review recommends an alternative system be immediately drawn up by the Home Office.

A ‘case’ not a person

In addition to grave inadequacies in the systems designed to protect victims of torture, Stephen Shaw expresses his acute concern over the five recent cases in which the Home Office was found to be in breach of the Article 3 prohibition on torture – enshrined in our Human Rights Act – as a result of ill-treatment of detainees.

“It is not surprising that detainees feel ‘dehumanised’ by the existing process and believe they are treated as a ‘case’ not a person.”

Importantly for the campaign for a 28-day time limit on immigration detention, Stephen Shaw recommends consideration be given “to ways of strengthening the legal safeguards against excessive length of detention”.

He also calls on the Home Office to give greater emphasis and energy to alternatives to detention. For those who think immigration detention is about public protection, the Report makes the reality clear: “most of those currently in detention do not represent a serious (or any) risk to the public, and many represent a very low risk of non-compliance because of their strong domestic links to the UK”.

Shaw’s comments about the impact of detention should speak to the conscience of the nation:  “It is not surprising that detainees feel ‘dehumanised’ by the existing process and believe they are treated as a ‘case’ not a person.”

One of report’s most enduring messages is that “tolerance may not be the soundest basis for public policy, but the total absence of sympathy is assuredly a worse one” – one the Home Office would do well to consider.

Refugee Council: Beyond Shaw: what does the future hold for detention?

73_fence_and_sunset_article_detail_small 18JAN2016

Last week a Government commissioned review into Britain’s immigration detention estate produced its conclusions. Here, Refugee Council Parliamentary Manager Jon Featonby takes an in-depth look at what the report means for the future of detention.

I spent a significant amount of time last Thursday morning repeatedly refreshing a webpage on the Home Office’s section of the Government’s website. I was waiting the release of a report on one of the murkier aspects of our immigration system. After eleven months, the “Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons”, commissioned by the Home Secretary and carried out by former prisons ombudsman Stephen Shaw, was to be published.

In large part, the desire to see the Shaw Review published was to get it out of the way rather than a hope that it would contain radical recommendations for the reform of immigration detention. Since the review was announced by the Home Secretary last February, it has, more often than not, become the Government’s catch-all response to criticism of the way the detention system operates.

And there has been a lot of criticism in that time.

Shortly after the report was commissioned, Channel 4 broadcast shocking reports documenting abuse of people held inside Yarl’s Wood IRC. This was followed by the publication of a report authored by a group of cross-party parliamentarians who called for radical reform of the way the UK uses immigration detention, including the introduction of a maximum time limit on the length of time someone can be detained. The UK is, after all, the only country in the European Union not to have a maximum time limit. The Chief Inspector of Prisons has since endorsed that call.

But the answer to these calls, which MPs continued to make during debates on the Immigration Bill, were often rebutted by Government Ministers pointing to the Shaw Review as the answer to all the ills.

In many ways, this was an inadequate response. As has been pointed out elsewhere, the terms of reference for the Shaw Review specifically said that it “shall focus on policies applying to those in detention, not the decision to detain.” That it would not be able to look at how people end up in detention in the first place would, it was feared, prevent Stephen Shaw from considering the fundamental reforms campaigners had long been calling for.

So it was with a sense of “let’s get this out of the way”, that I sat refreshing my screen.

And then it appeared.

The first thing I noticed was that the Review was some 349 pages in length. The second thing, turning immediately to the relevant section, was that Shaw had made 64 recommendations.

Reading through the report, it is clear that Shaw had interpreted the terms of reference given to him slightly more loosely than many may have feared.

The key finding of the review is that the Government does not do enough to protect vulnerable people in detention. Shaw is particularly damning in his treatment of Rule 35 reports, which in theory provide a safeguard for vulnerable people whose continued detention would be detrimental to their welfare.

Many organisations, including Medical Justice and Freedom from Torture, have long argued that it is a safeguard that is failing. Shaw agrees. Furthermore, he does not believe that merely improving the way Rule 35 reports works would be enough. The issue, he says, is “that the Home Office does not trust the mechanisms it has created to support its own policy.” Shaw recommends that the Home Office “immediately” explores alternatives.

Stephen Shaw is also highly critical about the way the Home Office identifies vulnerability in its policies. Nick Hardwick, the outgoing Inspector of Prisons, previously found that 99 pregnant women had been detained at Yarl’s Wood during 2014. In his review, Shaw states that detention has an “inconvertible deleterious” effect on pregnant women and their unborn children.

Additionally, he believes that the Home Office should acknowledge that in the vast majority of cases, the detention of pregnant women does not result in their removal. Shaw recommends that there should be an absolute exclusion from detention for pregnant women.

The idea that detention should be closely tied to removal is a theme that runs through much of Shaw’s review. That detention centres in the UK are called “Immigration Removal Centres” would suggest that those people who are detained are then going to be removed.

However, during the last quarter for which statistics are available, only 40% of people who left detention did so because they were removed from the UK. For the majority of people, their detention ends with them being released back to their communities, having potentially spent months, if not years, needlessly being locked up indefinitely.

Considering that statistic adds to the niggling feeling that there is something missing from Stephen Shaw’s review. The 64 recommendations he makes are welcome, and most mirror what has been argued for in previous reports. For example, recommendations on allowing those detained to have greater access to the internet in order to better keep in touch with friends and family, restricting transfers between detention centres, and improving health care screening, were all made by the parliamentary inquiry. It is also welcome that Shaw recommends the Home Office look to develop alternatives to detention.

However, while there is a real sense that Shaw has pushed the terms of reference almost as far as he could have, the worries I outlined earlier about the scope of the review resurface. It appears that Shaw is himself aware of them. In the foreword to the review he writes:

“As my report makes clear, healthcare and particularly the impact of detention upon detainees’ mental health, has been at the heart of this review. For that reason alone, it is not possible to distinguish the fact of detention from the consequences for welfare and vulnerability. As a result, while the many proposals I make in this report should improve care and wellbeing, and ensure that the most vulnerable do not suffer unnecessarily, in themselves they do not go far enough.” (emphasis added)

That he has made 64 recommendations shows that the way the UK Government uses detention for administrative purposes does not work: fundamental reform is needed. As Shaw argues, the UK needs less detention and what detention is deemed necessary must be better focused.

And this is what appears to be missing. It would seem logical that in order to achieve these twin goals, a recommendation for a time limit should have been forthcoming.

A limit of 28 days, for example, would help ensure that people are not needlessly detained for months at a time before being released back into their communities. It would focus the Home Office on detaining only those it could be confident of removing and act as an incentive for developing more nuanced community based alternatives.

Having said that, the final sentence of Stephen Shaw’s conclusion should not be ignored:

“Immigration detention has increased, is increasing, and – whether by better screening, more effective reviews, or formal time limit – it ought to be reduced.”

So while not explicitly endorsing a time limit, he does unambiguously rule it in as a possible part of the solution to how the Government can reform, for the better, the way it uses detention.

And that perhaps points to what needs to happen next. Shaw’s review shows there are real problems with the detention system. Most of what Shaw finds, like the parliamentary inquiry before him, is not new: there is little in his review that will come as a surprise to people who are familiar with the issues. But what is new is who has said it and the context in which it has been said.

This was a Government commissioned review. The Home Office will need to respond to it, and indeed has already started to do so (see the page-and-a-half response issued last Thursday). It provides a marker for organisations and parliamentarians to hold Government Ministers to. It endorses many of the arguments that have been used by those advocating for a time limit and wider reform.

The Shaw Review was, in reality, very unlikely to be the silver bullet some may have wished it was. But it should be welcomed and the reform agenda it pushes embraced.

It is for those of us who believe there should be a time limit to show how such a limit would not only fit within that agenda but also ensure the changes Stephen Shaw recommends result in meaningful reform. Those efforts to shape the policy response to the review must start now — the Home Office received Shaw’s report in September so has a head-start is formulating its response — and they start with the House of Lords’ consideration of the Immigration Bill this week.

In short, the Shaw Review is not the beginning, nor is it the end. But it is a step in the right direction.

Rene Cassin: Shaw Review – positive but piecemeal

In May 2015, RenÊ Cassin submitted evidence to the Shaw Review into the welfare in immigration detention of vulnerable persons. Our submission highlighted the fact that the review would never be able to deal entirely with the issue of vulnerability whilst ignoring the central issue of indefinite immigration detention.

The 350 page report out today again demonstrates some of the worse parts of the UK detention system yet continues to ignore an underlying cause of welfare problems. It calls for a widening of the definition of vulnerable people who should not be detained in the first place.

The government’s response is mainly positive and accepts broadly a lot of the recommendations within the review.

Widening the scope of who should never be put into a detention centre (pregnant women for example) is important. However, this report sidesteps the issue of indefinite detention despite the growing evidence which connects the lack of a time limit to increased vulnerability and welfare issues within detention centres.

The report, without mentioning indefinite detention, still paints the grim reality of detention centres, yet even if it’s recommendations are to be accepted in full, which they will not be, there would still be a blotch in the system that causes severe welfare issues – the lack of a time limit.


The government is committed to an immigration system that works in Britain’s national interest, and commands the confidence of the British people. Coming to the United Kingdom to work, study or visit is a privilege, not an unqualified right. Accordingly, the government expects anyone who comes to the UK to comply with their visa conditions and, if they do not, to return home voluntarily at the first opportunity.

Detention is used to effect the removal of those without permission to remain. It is a longestablished principle, however, that where an individual is detained pending removal there must be a realistic prospect of removal within a reasonable time. Depriving someone of their liberty will always be subject to careful consideration and scrutiny, and will take account of individual circumstances. It is vital that the system is not only efficient and effective but also treats those within it with dignity and respect. It must also take account of the vulnerability of those detained.

It is against this background that in February last year the Home Secretary asked Stephen Shaw to conduct a review of the welfare of vulnerable individuals in detention. The Government is grateful to Mr Shaw for his review and welcomes this important contribution to the debate about effective detention. The government accepts the broad thrust of his recommendations. This paper sets out the government’s broad response to the various themes arising from Stephen Shaw’s report.

Strategy Recommendations

In response to the strategic recommendations, the government will follow up the written ministerial statement today with a more detailed strategy for detention in due course.


Recommendations Stephen Shaw makes a number of recommendations relating to the definitions of and policy for managing vulnerable individuals in detention. In response, the government is developing a new policy defining “adults at risk”. This will recognise the breadth and dynamic nature of vulnerabilities and which will have a clear presumption against detention of vulnerable people, unless there is evidence that matters such as criminality, compliance history or imminent removal outweigh the vulnerability factors.

Casework Transformation Recommendations

In order to maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of the detention estate, the government will implement a new approach to the case management of those who are detained. It will implement the new “adult at risk” policy to ensure more rigorous assessment of those entering detention through a new gate-keeping function, maintaining this rigour through the adoption of individual removals plans for all detainees, which will maintain a strong focus on and momentum towards removal.

Health Recommendations

The government will carry out a more detailed mental health needs assessment in Immigration Removal Centres, using the expertise of the Centre for Mental Health. This will report in March 2016, and NHS commissioners will use that assessment to consider and revisit current provision to ensure healthcare needs are being met appropriately. In the light of the review the government will also publish a joint Department of Health, NHS and Home Office mental health action plan in April 2016.

Operational Recommendations

The report makes a number of major and minor operational recommendations including a review of Detention Centre Rules 40 and 42, relating to care and separation and associated accommodation, consideration of the closure of Cedars pre-departure centre, night time closures at some centres, a review of guidance and update of the Detention Service Orders and linked reviews of population management and regime. These will be considered carefully on a case by case basis taking account of available resources.

The Government expects these reforms, and broader changes in legislation, policy and operational procedures, to reduce the number of those detained, and the duration of detention before removal, in turn improving the welfare of those detained.

More effective detention, complemented by increased voluntary returns without detention, will safeguard the most vulnerable while helping reduce immigration abuse and reduce costs.