We learned yesterday that IRC The Verne is due to close on 31st December 2017, and will revert to a prison in 2018. This will create uncertainty and anxiety for those detained and staff alike
We would be pleased IF the closure of IRC The Verne indicates there will be a reduction in the overall numbers of people who are indefinitely detained in the UK.
This policy has been widely criticised. Indefinite detention was described by the All Party Parliamentary Group of MPs as “expensive, ineffective and unjust.” In 2016 the Shaw report commissioned by the home secretary called for ministers to reduce “boldly and without delay” the 30,000 people detained each year but there is little evidence of this happening. Yesterday’s High Court ruling that victims of torture have been unlawfully detained has exposed a further flaw in the system.
However we would be very concerned if the Verne’s closure means a greater number of people are detained at privately-operated IRCs that like Brook House, where poor standards of care were recently highlighted in the BBC Panorama expose.
If more of those currently detained are now to be discharged to the community it is essential that they are given the support and care they need. Without the right to work and minimal financial and social support they are a very vulnerable group.
We have worked well with the Verne’s staff and management for over three years, and have respect for the care they have provided to people detained in the Verne.
However, we have always been extremely concerned by the degree of isolation experienced by people held at the Verne. The distance, time and challenges in visiting loved ones there has often prevented contact with the outside world. This has had major impact on family relationships and friendships adding to the feelings of despair experienced by those detained.
We will continue to visit people during the remaining months of the year before the change occurs, and will also continue to raise awareness and object to the current policy and system of indefinite detention. We will only be satisfied when there is considerable change to the system.