Immigration removal centres in England: a mental health needs analysis.

Document type
Duncan, Graham; Stubbs, Jessica; Boardman, Jed
Centre for Mental Health
Date of publication
9 January 2017
Mental health services, Minority Groups
Social welfare
Material type

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This report was commissioned by NHS England to provide a rapid mental health needs analysis of  Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs) in England in response to the Shaw Report (2016) which highlighted the poor mental well-being of people detained in IRCs. The authors note that over 30,000 people were held in UK immigration detention in the year to March 2016, many of whom had experienced torture, trauma and oppression. They assessed 10 IRCs to explore the well-being of detainees, the services in place and the perspectives of people working with those detained. They found that levels of distress, problems with living conditions and lack of both certainty and liberty all had a significant impact on the well-being of detainees, leading to depressed mood or anxiety and hallucinations or delusions. However, they observed that the NHS and the Home Office were working in partnership to improve the support available by implementing a ‘stepped care’ model of mental health support and carefully monitoring progress. They also consider the challenges confronting mental health care staff working in IRCs where people may be removed at short notice and face uncertainty about their future. They recommend that:

  • those with a marked vulnerability are not detained; 
  • mental health awareness training should be provided for all IRC staff; 
  • 24/7 access to crisis care should be available, and 
  • more alternative support such as peer support and relaxation groups should be offered.

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