Yarl’s Wood: Response from Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards re: Meg Hillier

Report from Frances Laing  – March 23, 2010

Response from Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. 19th. March, 2009

Received a response today from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. Joan Meredith and I made a joint citizen’s complaint about the letter Meg Hillier wrote to all M.P’s. For the text  of the letter see this previous post: Continue reading “Yarl’s Wood: Response from Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards re: Meg Hillier”

A matter of conscience: hunger strikers at Yarl’s Wood

Frances Laing reports on the women’s hunger strike that started on 5 February

Activists show their solidarity with the hunger strikers. | Frances Laing

On Friday 5 February women detained at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre in Bedfordshire started a hunger strike. It involved over eighty women who were locked up at the centre.

The following Monday the Black Women’s Rape Action Project – who support women at Yarl’s Wood – published a report that alleged that the hunger strikers had suffered brutal recriminations and had been beaten by guards and subjected to racist abuse:

‘Over fifty women are currently trapped in an airless hallway in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre. On Friday 5 February they began a hunger strike. Today they were herded into the hallway where they have been left there for over two hours without access to water or toilets. Four women, including an asthma sufferer, have fainted. Around 1.30 the guards came into the hallway and started to beat women. As we spoke to one woman she told us that someone was bleeding. One of the managers told the women they would regret what they have done; she called the Chinese women monkeys, and the Black women black monkeys. Four other women have been locked in other rooms for three hours, and have been told by room mates that their belongings have been packed. They are worried they face immediate removal even though their cases are still being considered. Fifteen women have been locked up in “Kingfisher”, the punishment wing. Continue reading “A matter of conscience: hunger strikers at Yarl’s Wood”

The voices of the hunger strikers

Frances Laing spoke to some of the hunger strikers over the weekend

Activists show their solidarity with the hunger strikers | Frances Laing

Denise McNeil is from Jamaica. Her brother was murdered there and she fears for her family. The mother of two spoke to me on the telephone from Yarl’s Wood Kingfisher segregation block on Saturday 20 February.

Denise seemed very weak and tired. She told me she was ‘so depressed’ and hadn’t been outside for two weeks. Sanitary conditions are ‘disgusting’ she said. ‘No water in the tap’, and the toilets were ‘not flushing’. She had been placed on suicide watch. As we spoke a male officer stood at the door. There were no proper medical facilities. Continue reading “The voices of the hunger strikers”

Minister ‘admits paying millions to detained migrants’ 11 February 2010

Immigration minister Phil Woolas has admitted millions of pounds are being paid in compensation to migrants who have been detained in removal centres.

Lisa Nandy, Policy Adviser, The Children’s Society and Celia Clarke, Director, Bail for Immigration Detainees, comment:

“Not only is immigration detention seriously harmful to children’s physical and mental health, this report also demonstrates that it is a waste of time and taxpayers’ money.

We do not need to detain children. Other countries do not detain children and they still manage to operate an effective immigration system. Continue reading “Minister ‘admits paying millions to detained migrants’ 11 February 2010”

OutCry! comment on protests at Yarl’s Wood detention centre 09 February 2010

The Children’s Society and Bail for Immigration Detainees have commented on the news that a group of mothers detained at an immigration centre have gone on hunger strike in protest at being separated from their children:

Lisa Nandy, policy adviser at The Children’s Society, and Celia Clarke, director of Bail for Immigration Detainees, said:

“We are very concerned about the reports we have received from detainees in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre that there has been a disturbance which has resulted in the police being called. We understand that a number of women are protesting against their enforced separation from their children and are extremely distressed. Continue reading “OutCry! comment on protests at Yarl’s Wood detention centre 09 February 2010”

Mojirola Daniels – Speaks Out Full summary of the treatment that I received at Yarl’s wood center

I am one of the ladies on hunger strike at Yarl’s wood center. On Monday 8th February 2010 around 11 45am GMT time, some group of women stood at the center of a hall in the center. We were protesting about the condition at the center and the length of time we spend in here. An officer approached the group and informed us that an immigration official would like to see us all to discuss the issues that we have raised.

The officer told us to follow him down the corridor to the immigration office. We proceed down to the end of the corridor. When we got to the very end, the officer asked that we should go inside the office 4 ladies at a time. They allowed 4 women to enter and told us that they will let 4 more in when those 4 inside gets out. One of the manager of the center ( a lady manager called Viv Moore) came from the long corridor and asked us if we wanted to go back to our rooms. We told her that we were waiting to see the immigration. She said we are just wasting our time and that nothing is going to be achieved from our protest. She then asked the officers in the room to come with her and as soon as they got to the door, the last officer looked the door on us. They all stayed outside watching us through the door window. Continue reading “Mojirola Daniels – Speaks Out Full summary of the treatment that I received at Yarl’s wood center”

Women held after immigration centre protest

Four women have been detained by police after a group of mothers at an immigration removal centre protested at being separated from their children.

Officers were called to the Yarl’s Wood centre in Bedfordshire yesterday, where more than 80 women were said to be on hunger strike in protest against their detention and conditions.

Bedfordshire Police detained four women for offences under the Immigration Act last night following the disturbance, they said today.

They were taken to Greyfriars Police Station in Bedford at about 7.30pm and will be handed over to the UK Border Agency later today.

They have not been arrested or charged with any criminal offences, a spokeswoman said. Continue reading “Women held after immigration centre protest”

Yarl’s Wood women on hunger strike ‘locked up and denied treatment’

As their protest runs into a fourth day, some are said to be fainting or injured. But the Home Office denies wrongdoing

A controversial immigration removal centre was reported to be in a state of chaos today, as at least 50 women entered the fourth day of a hunger strike, with several fainting in corridors and almost 20 locked outdoors wearing few clothes.

Yarl’s Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire, which houses 405 women and children, was in lockdown, leaving women in communal spaces without food, water or toilet facilities.

Several women who tried to escape through a window were then locked outside, according to one detainee, including one whose finger was almost severed as she escaped but who had not received medical treatment. Continue reading “Yarl’s Wood women on hunger strike ‘locked up and denied treatment’”

Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre

yarls-wood-001Six miles north of Bedford on a desolate hill-top, Yarl’s Wood IRC is purpose built, by the same architects as Harmondsworth and to a similar pattern. It was originally designed for 900 beds as “the biggest immigration detention centre in Europe” but before it could be completed was destroyed, only three months after opening, in a night of riot and fire lead, probably, by exasperated people who had served prison terms for criminal activities, and then, instead of being released or promptly deported, found themselves indefinitely further detained awaiting deportation. Continue reading “Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre”