On Tuesday 19th September 2023, there was a public inquiry into the abuses at Brook House immigration detention centre.
The Brook House Inquiry was the first public inquiry into the dehumanising practice of detention, and uncovered the truth about the violence against vulnerable people seeking asylum.
This blog will summarise the key reports of the blog, the length of investigation and why we should end detention centres altogether.
What is happening?
In 2017, a BBC Panorama broadcast revealed footage of violence against vulnerable people seeking asylum detained at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre. The broadcast revealed violence and verbal abuse against vulnerable people seeking asylum detained in the centre.
Priti Patel, who was Home Secretary at the time, called for an inquiry into what was occurring at Brook House.
What are the findings?
After three years of investigation, the inquiry report was released this month and found that Brook House was a place of “stress and distress”. The inquiry revealed 19 instances over five months that indicated mistreatment including; dangerous restraint techniques, staff smuggling in psychoactive drugs, and homophobic comments against detainees. The inquiry revealed failings of safeguarding rules and procedures, and an excessive use of force.
The report said that the indefinite nature of immigration detention caused worry and uncertainty for detained people seeking asylum, which ultimately led to a detriment in their physical and mental wellbeing.
The report makes 33 recommendations for urgent changes, the most significant of them being a detention time limit of 28 days. There was also a recommendation of staff at detention centres only using force at a last resort.
Kate Eves, chair of the inquiry, said that it was difficult to watch the footage of “the level of desensitisation to people’s very palpable distress.”
These Walls Must Fall, our sister campaigning group, has been campaigning against detention since they were established. Many campaigners int he group have experienced detention, but all of them have been living with the constant threat of it.
In 2020, during the COVID pandemic, disturbing news was coming from Brook House. The detention centre was being used to hold people for charter flight mass-deportations to various European countries. In response to this, Manono, Liverpool campaigners said: “Our message to people inside Brook House is: be strong. We on the outside are fighting for you. We need you outside, we need you to come and help us, fight this system together. You know you are not alone.”
When campaigning against the Derwentside detention centre in 2022, Mariam, a Manchester campaigner, said: “I am not free until others are free.”
Detention destroys lives, isolates people from community support and is a violent aspect of the hostile environment. We urge the government to act and end the practice of detention. We urge allies to stand in solidarity to those who are being detained and those who face the threat of detention every single day. Reform is not enough – we need to end this system altogether, because no one is illegal and nobody should be treated as such.
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