Visiting people in detention

Medical Justice urgently needs health professionals to visit clients in detention centres for medical assessments, including documenting scars of torture, and serious medical conditions, giving advice about the management of pre-existing or new medical conditions, and assessing injuries following alleged assaults during the removal process.

The immigration removal centres (IRCs) that volunteers visit are at: Brook House IRC and Tinsley House IRC at Gatwick Airport, Colnbrook IRC and Harmondsworth IRC at Heathrow Airport, Yarl’s Wood IRC near Bedford, Derwentside IRC near Consett (County Durham), and Dungavel IRC near Strathaven in Scotland. Volunteers also visit some people detained in prisons under immigration powers.

Clinicians visit people in detention and write medico-legal reports (MLRs) in line with the Istanbul Protocol, a set of internationally recognised guidelines for the documentation of torture evidence. This can be time-consuming but it may make all the difference to the detained person’s health; sometimes it is life-saving.

There may be ‘legal aid’ funding for a report, but often there is no funding and the independent doctor sent in by Medical Justice works on a voluntary basis (travel and other expenses will be refunded).

Phone/email advice

Medical Justice has a network of specialists, including psychiatrists, HIV physicians and psychologists who can provide expert advice to other volunteer clinicians.

Those who are not able to visit people in detention can give medical advice by phone or email. This could include issues surrounding denial of medication or treatment, getting test results, or advice on anti-malarials. Often these are straightforward issues of proper health care provision.

Volunteer training

Volunteering with Medical Justice can be difficult and demanding. You are visiting vulnerable people in detention, often in a hostile environment. Your assessment and reports are very important to the detained person’s future.

You will not be working alone.

All volunteers first attend a Basic Training Day in the forensic documentation of the physical, psychological and social consequences our patients may have suffered, including torture, trafficking, rape, and assault. Trainers include doctors, lawyers, people with lived experience of detention and Medical Justice staff. New volunteers will then undertake ‘shadow’ visits with experienced volunteers before they can begin their own assessments.

For those that have made one or more ‘shadow’ visits plus one or more assessments of clients, there are Advanced Training Days throughout the year to provide more in depth training.

For more information on any upcoming training days click here

Clinical & other advice

Access to the Clinical Advisors and more experienced doctors (including a wide range of consultants and specialists) by phone and/or email;

Access to the Casework Manager who is very knowledgeable and can direct you to other sources of support, both medical and legal;

Individual supervision is provided by the Medical Justice Clinical Advisors, for difficult cases.

Peer support

Medical Justice organises regular Peer Support Groups for volunteers. These meetings take place on weekdays by video call. .

Sessions are organised by Medical Justice’s Clinical Advisors and volunteers will receive details of dates and topics for upcoming sessions via email.


Medical Justice will provide information and support for appraisal.