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Dungavel House Immigration Removal Centre

Volume 508: debated on Monday 29 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what assessment he has made of the reasons for the hunger strike by detainees at Dungavel immigration removal centre; and if he will make a statement; (323502)

(2) how many cases of hunger strike have occurred at immigration removal centres in each of the last two years.

[holding answer 22 March 2010]: There has not been a hunger strike at Dungavel immigration removal centre (IRC).

I refer the hon. Member to the letter sent to Members of this House by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier), on 24 February 2010, addressing the inaccurate reporting in the media of a hunger strike at Yarl's Wood IRC; and to my own comments during Home Office questions in the House on 22 March 2010.

Those detainees said to be on hunger strike at Yarl's Wood were refusing meals from the centre's canteen, but they were buying food from the centre's shop and vending machines and having food delivered by visitors. They were all also drinking.

There is a well-publicised procedure in every immigration removal centre to enable detainees to complain about any aspect of their detention or care within the centre. There were no records of complaints received from any of the women involved at the start of the protest. Concerns which have since been raised are being addressed.

We only record information on detainees who have missed four consecutive meals, excluding breakfast. Such detainees miss meals for a number of reasons, including fasting due to their religious faith. We do not record the number who state they are refusing food in protest at a particular issue.

All those who miss meals are monitored closely by the centre, including healthcare, where they will receive advice on diet and welfare issues.

The UK Border Agency and the centre management engage closely with such detainees to understand the reason for them missing meals and to seek to resolve any underlying problems.