Segregation is one of the most severe and dangerous sanctions that can be imposed on detainees – its devastating impact on mental and physical health is widely recognised. Yet, there has been surprisingly little scrutiny of its use in Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs). Drawing on case studies from Medical Justice’s work in IRCs, this report sheds light on the solitary and secretive world of segregation.

Our research demonstrates that despite repeated damning critique from HM Inspectorates of Prisons (HMIP) and Independent Monitoring Boards (IMB), the over use and misuse of segregation continues in IRCs across the UK

Our research also found relatively widespread use of segregation which contravened the Detention Centre Rules:

  • The unlawful use of segregation as a form of punishment for detainees who are held without the benefit of automatic judicial oversight and without access to adjudication processes;
  • The use of segregation to manage detainees with mental health disorders that cannot be satisfactorily managed in detention. Behaviour rooted in on-going and untreated mental health issues is often mistaken as confrontational behaviour and managed through the use of segregation;
  • The use of segregation to manage detainees at risk of self-harm, despite segregation being an entirely unsuited environment for vulnerable detainees in crisis;
  • And the indiscriminate use of segregation as a means of aiding in removal processes in the absence of individual risk assessments. Some detainees are inappropriately segregated for months and even years, with one detainee being segregated more or less continuously for 22 months. One detainee was only removed to psychiatric hospital following 80 days in segregation whilst another was segregated more than 8 times during her 800 days in detention.