The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) report on Heathrow IRCs was published 21st April 2020.  Extracts include the below :

  • 75% of detainees handcuffed when transported outside, including hospital visits.
  • During 2019 seven detainees were sectioned.
  • The number of detainees passing through averaged 2,000 a month in 2019.
  • One Rule 35 report took 6 weeks.
  • 42 detainees on average per month held in segregation (Care & Separation Unit) – including “because of the lack of an alternative secure place due to mental health issues”

“There was an allocation of only two outside mental health bed places for specialist needs, which could mean significant delay and a consequent problem for the Centre with disturbed detainees. They had to be managed in the CSU (segregation) which was not an environment conducive to the treatment of their mental health condition.

“ …we did witness a small number of distressing cases where detainees resisted their removal and were taken out of the Centre semi-naked and with fresh wounds caused by self-harm. We also observed a high number of detainees being placed in waist restraint belts, even when they were compliant with the removal process.”


Detainee A was a double amputee. He used a wheelchair for movement around the Centre but had considerable difficulties with showering where he had to sit on the floor, needing the assistance of staff and fellow detainees. Whilst this help was appreciated the whole situation was degrading.

Detainee B had been detained since April 2017 and was still in custody at the end of 2019.


Detainee C was non-compliant with the regime and was moved to the CSU (Care & Separation Unit). Whilst there it was determined that he had some mental health issues which were contributing to his non-compliant behaviour. After 15 days in the CSU he was moved to the Care Suite at Colnbrook for several days before being transferred to a prison.


Detainee D started to exhibit bizarre behaviour on the residential units and was moved to the CSU. It was established that he had a Mental Health condition and after assessment he was admitted to Hillingdon Hospital having remained in the CSU for 16 days.


Detainee D missed his hospital appointment because staff only arrived to take him to his appointment at Mount Vernon Hospital 15 minutes before the time of the appointment. This was insufficient time for the journey to the hospital so he missed the appointment.


Detainee E requested a Rule 35 review in early October which was undertaken by Healthcare in 3 days and submitted to his caseworker. The caseworker then requested further information from Healthcare which has the effect of stopping the clock on consideration of the Rule 35 request. Healthcare replied quickly that no further information was available as the request was not relevant to the situation. However, it took another six weeks before the impasse could be resolved and the Rule 35 request was considered.


Detainee F was a paid worker who self-harmed on his residential unit due to lack of progress with his immigration case. This resulted in him being taken to the CSU for 24 hours. The rule is that anyone who is placed in the CSU is removed from paid work for one month.


Read the IMB’s report here.


Painting by Lucy Edkins