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Immigration Detention/Adults at Risk Policy

Volume 618: debated on Monday 5 December 2016

13. If she will take steps to (a) ensure that survivors of sexual and other gender-based violence are only held in immigration detention as a last resort and (b) monitor the effective implementation of the adults at risk policy. (907627)

The intention of the adults at risk policy, developed as a result of the review by Stephen Shaw, is part of a wider programme of work that aims to improve the way in which vulnerable people in detention are managed. That should enable the delivery of the issue raised by the hon. Lady. The policy came into effect on 12 September, and the intention is to ask Stephen Shaw to carry out a short review in 2017 to assess progress.

The Government’s commitment to reduce the number of survivors of sexual violence in detention is welcome, but how will observers know whether that is happening? Is information now being collected on the numbers of women in detention who disclose that they are victims of sexual violence, and will that information be made available?

The hon. Lady is right to point out that we are taking a significant package of measures to make sure that people are detained for the minimum time possible, that their vulnerabilities are properly recognised and understood, and that access to mental health and other health services is made available. As I have said, we will ask for an independent review in the course of the year, to make sure that that is working.

The Istanbul convention, which the Government have yet to ratify, requires countries to develop gender-sensitive reception procedures, such as women-only accommodation. What steps are the Government taking to guarantee the safety of women in initial accommodation, including women and children-only corridors?

The hon. Lady is right to point out the importance of making sure that women are safe. It is the absolute priority of this Government to keep women and girls safe, including in our detention system. The Government have signed and will ratify the Istanbul convention and, as the hon. Lady knows, we are well exceeding all its targets.