Bishop of Durham asks about treatment of asylum seekers and conditions in immigration centres

The Bishop of Durham received the following written answers on 2oth February 2023:

The Lord Bishop of Durham asked His Majesty’s Government what is the average wait before an individual is returned following acceptance of a voluntary deportation from the UK.

Lord Murray of Blidworth (Con): The average processing time of voluntary return applications is not routinely captured. To capture numbers would require a manual trawl of data and to do so would incur disproportionate cost.


The Lord Bishop of Durham asked His Majesty’s Government:

  • what steps they are taking to improve the governance and practice of the use of force at Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre, identified as an issue of concern in the Chief Inspector of Prisons’ first inspection report of the centre.
  • how any lessons from the Home Office Detention engagement team at the Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre will be shared across the detention estate.
  • what guidance they provide concerning the supervision of women by male officers at immigration removal centres; and whether they will review the use of male officers for supervision of women at Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre.

Lord Murray of Blidworth: We remain focused on the specific needs for women in our care and Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) is operated in line with the Detention Centre Rules 2001, published operating standards for IRCs and Detention Services Orders.

It is routine for best practice to be shared across the Detention Engagement Teams and we have robust mechanisms in place for staff to raise issues or concerns with senior leaders. Derwentside, as the sole female only IRC, presents both unique challenges and opportunities.

Published guidance, and the training received by detainee custody officers makes it clear that physical force, and the use of waist restraint belts or handcuffs, should only be used after a thorough assessment of risk, and in consideration of each individual’s personal circumstances. Restraints should be removed at the earliest opportunity.

The Home Office reviews all reports resulting from a use of force to ensure that techniques are used proportionately, that they are justified, and are used for the minimum period required. Since the inspection took place Control and Restraint instructors have attended the centre to provide additional coaching and incident management support to staff. A bespoke package of training commenced in November 2022 and monthly use of force review meetings commenced in September 2022. In addition, the supplier centre manager reviews all incidents involving use of force, following a review undertaken by the supplier duty director. All use of force incidents are additionally peer reviewed by the supplier’s use of force committees from two other IRCs (Heathrow and Dungavel) to provide an additional layer of governance and independent scrutiny.

All staff working with women receive appropriate gender specific training (such as the protocol for entry to bedrooms), in addition to any generic training they receive when they undergo initial training, and undertake appropriate refresher training, this includes equality and diversity, human trafficking and modern slavery. Detention Service Order 06/2016 Women in the Detention Estate sets out the minimum provision of services for women and can be found on here: in a new tab).




The Lord Bishop of Durham asked His Majesty’s Government what plans they have to secure more appropriate bail accommodation for those released from immigration detention.

Lord Murray of Blidworth: The Home Office work with our providers on a daily basis to ensure that there is sufficient accommodation available to meet our needs.

Asylum seekers released from immigration detention on bail are housed in Home Office asylum accommodation. Our providers manage the security of accommodation sites and have security staff on site 24 hours a day.

When on bail in asylum accommodation, Foreign National Offenders (FNOs) will be subject to bail conditions such as regular reporting to the Home Office and GPS electronic monitoring.


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