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Yarl’s Wood

Volume 508: debated on Monday 22 March 2010

14. If he will request Her Majesty’s chief inspector of prisons to undertake an immediate inquiry into the recent protests at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre. (322954)

The UK Border Agency has commissioned a management review of the incident which will report shortly. The investigators have not raised any concerns thus far, so it is not expected that the matter will require further investigation. However, if overriding concerns are identified, we will of course review that decision.

I appreciate the Minister’s answer. I also appreciate the involvement at a personal level of the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier), which is very helpful. Will the Minister reconsider the involvement of Dame Anne Owers? He will be aware that there is increasing concern about the condition of some of those who have been refusing food, that there were reports that some were taken to hospital last week, and that there have been allegations of suicide attempts. There is a continuing difference between the views of those health issues taken by Serco and the UK Border Agency and by those outside who look after detainees, and that will not be ended unless there is an independent review by Anne Owers rather than a management review.

I thank the hon. Gentleman. This is an issue in his constituency. He wrote to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary on 18 March, and a reply is being drafted for him. I take the point that he is making. Thus far, we have found no substance whatsoever in the allegations; indeed, the opposite is the case. If you will indulge me, Mr. Speaker, let me point out that the resident who claimed that she was not a criminal has in fact served time for drug supplying and has attacked two of our officers. CCTV footage is available, and the independent monitoring board, which has written to me and to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, was witness to the alleged incidents, but I have an open mind on the hon. Gentleman’s point, because it may be needed to give status—let me put it that way—to these concerns.