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Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre

Volume 460: debated on Wednesday 23 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many complaints Serco have received on the treatment of women detainees at Yarl’s Wood, broken down by subject of complaint. (137996)

Since the commencement of the new Serco contract to operate Yarl’s Wood there have been nine official complaints made to Serco by detainees. Three have been related to healthcare, two concerned the food, and four regarding single issues; the issue of shampoo and washing tablets, the escort process, the reception process and one complaint against staff, which was related to a detainee feeling unsupported by staff.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the management contract with Serco in respect of Yarl’s Wood stipulates in relation to the treatment of women detainees; and what guidance he has issued to Serco on (a) locked room detention, (b) access to or possession of mobile phones and (c) access to international news via satellite television. (137999)

The contract that exists between the Home Office and Serco outlines the requirement for a full, varied and active regime for the detainees held at Yarl’s Wood IRC. Detainees are required to be in their rooms for the 23:15 roll count, but are free to move around their accommodation units after this time. Detainees are allowed to be in possession of mobile phones and there are no plans to restrict their use. There is no restriction to satellite news; there was a fault with the system early in May but this has been resolved.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking in response to the protest by female detainees at Yarl’s Wood removal centre; and if he will make a statement. (138004)

[holding answer 18 May 2007]: There have been unfounded rumours that the quality of care provided to detainees at Yarl’s Wood will be reduced in the wake of the operating contract transfer from GSL to Serco. The new contract director Victoria Jones spoke to the detainees in Yarl’s Wood on two occasions on 4 and 5 May, and has also written to the detainees about their concerns. The centre has remained mainly calm. Complaints and concerns are addressed as they arise.