Medical Justice has discovered that there have been no women held in Yarl’s Wood for over a week, but that the short term holding facility known as the “lorry-drop unit” seems to have been expanded.
We don’t know if detainees are taken from Yarl’s Wood to charter flights to remove them to European countries or not. We have asked the Home Office what the future plans for Yarl’s Wood are and if detainees there now have access to legal advice under the Detention Duty Advice rota – we have had no response.
I began visiting detainees at Yarl’s Wood when it opened in November 2001. Since then I have come across just about everything imaginable happening there … hungerstrikes, self-harm, death, suicide, assaults, racist abuse, mental health collapse, ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’, women detained for years despite not being held as a part of any criminal sentence, scandals of sexual mistreatment of vulnerable women, and many cases of unlawful detention.
Medical Justice volunteer clinicians visiting Yarl’s Wood have seen women who are victims of slavery, war, rape, female genital mutilation. They have documented women’s scars of torture and challenged instances of medical mistreatment.
This is not a regime that vulnerable people crossing the Channel in small boats should be exposed to.
In recent years the vast majority of women subjected to detention at Yarl’s Wood were later released back into the community anyway, begging the question why they were ever detained in the first place. The Home Office must recognise that Yarl’s Wood has been nothing but a catalogue of abuse since the day it opened, and now – belatedly – do the right thing by closing it completely.”
Emma Ginn, Medical Justice.