The inability to learn from past failures is shameful and negligent.

Some clients call us, petrified that they too might die. They say the authorities don’t care whether they live or die. Certainly, the fact that little changes would reinforce their view.

Locking people up in detention centres without meaningful judicial oversight is unnecessary and each death in detention is a tragedy. No one should have to die whilst detained indefinitely, isolated from their community, many facing the prospect of deportation to a country they have fled in fear.

Medical Justice research report – Death in Immigration Detention 2000 – 2015

Medical Justice compiled this report in an effort to provide a systematic analysis of deaths in immigration detention because of a lack of published and accurate information from the Home Office. It documented 35 deaths during a 15-year period between 2000 and 2015. Read the report.

The reports highlight 5 main areas of failings:

Failures in immigration processes leading to inappropriate detention of vulnerable detainees. In addition, inadequate safeguard within detention (such as Rule 35) fail to offer intended protection once in detention.

Failure of custody and escort services, such as systemic over-reliance on use of restraints. Investigation into deaths reveal people dying in handcuffs. Inappropriate use of segregation to manage detainees with mental health issues or at risk of self-harm.

Lack of coordination between institutions and providers. This has arguably worsened with the proliferation of providers through subcontracting.

Failures of healthcare: This includes failures in emergency responses, inadequate clinical record keeping, poor staff training, lack of attention to mental health issues and assessments, detention of people with serious physical illness.

Immigration detainees held in prisons: Lack of understanding of the immigration process, inadequate follow- up during key stress points such as serving removal directions, lack of access to legal advice and lack of safeguards such as Rule 35 puts those held under immigration powers in prisons at increased risk.

Case study : Neglect contributed to the death of an immigration detainee who died naked and emaciated in ‘strip cell’

Prince Fosu died on 30th October 2012, 6 days after being detained at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre (IRC). He suffered undiagnosed, untreated psychosis and related bizarre behaviour, dehydration, malnourishment and hypothermia. He died alone, on the concrete floor of a ‘strip cell’ in segregation with no mattress, having had little if any food, fluid or sleep.  He was naked, emaciated, and covered in debris.

Prince Fosu had been found running down a street with no clothes on. He was arrested and sent to Harmondsworth IRC.  There was a complete failure by guards and doctors contracted by the Home Office to recognise that Prince was mentally ill, to follow immigration detention policies and to properly document and monitor his wellbeing. Where they existed, records included noting Prince Fosu’s “non-compliant” behaviour and that he “declined” food, fresh air, showers and to see doctors.

The scale of the collapse of all ‘safeguards’ cannot be overstated. It happened at every turn, within Harmondsworth, the Home Office, healthcare, and the Independent Monitoring Board who acknowledge that Prince Fosu died “in plain sight”. None took purposeful steps to prevent Prince Fosu dying “in plain sight”. During the inquest many were unable to explain why they acted as they did; others gave explanations that were difficult to fathom.  3 doctors working at Harmondsworth IRC have been reported to the General Medical Council for review.

Had proper assessment been undertaken and appropriate treatment provided, Prince Fosu may have lived.

Further information